Swain Sports out of business
Mark Pritchard, owner of Swain Sports at 94 Main Street in Geneseo, announced on Monday that the store will be permanently closing following a two week dispersal sale.
The closure will end 41 years of Swain shop presence in Geneseo.
The business had its beginning on Center Street in 1971 as a satellite for a shop at the Swain Ski Center, hence the name. It shortly came under the ownership of Chuck and Charleen Nesbit, who moved to the Commons plaza in 1976 and sold the business to Randy Cofield in 1984.
When sales of cheerleading wear took off as a dominant component, Cofield separated the business, selling the equipment merchandise to Keith Emerson, who moved to the Geneseo Theater plaza on Route 20A in 2000.
After eight years on Route 20A, Emerson returned to downtown Geneseo, occupying the former Bronze Bear restaurant location in the Scoville Building.
Pritchard has been associated with Swain since 1993, when, as a young man fresh out of the military, he took a part time job as a sales person and bike mechanic. Pritchard was, and still is, a bicycle racing hobbyist. At that time the business sold sports gear of all kinds and was known as ‘Swain Ski & Sport,’ still including downhill skiing equipment as a major part of its inventory.
One year after the move back to Main Street, in 2009, Pritchard took over the business.
Pritchard has made a valiant effort to establish a downtown Geneseo marketing nitch. Unfortunately, competition with large Monroe County sports retail specialists and with the Internet has been formidable — even though none of the competition has the service capability of Swain and head mechanic (and manager) Mike Duke.
“It’s getting tough for the mom and pop type shops,” Pritchard said. “The bigger companies we deal with themselves would rather deal with the bigger retailers.”
“There is the false perception that the small shop is expensive, but we know what everybody in the city is doing and try to price the same or a little bit lower,” Pritchard said. “We always had said: ‘Shop with us today so we will be here tomorrow.’”
The store endured a wet, tough spring in 2011, enjoyed a good summer, but then experienced a disastrous and snowless winter. The usual quota of about 200 cross county ski sales dwindled to just three, while sales of winter clothing likewise fell off.
The merchandise at Swains Sport will be sold at discount beginning on Tuesday, April 24, after a three day closure to prepare for the sale. The store will remain open weekdays noon to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, then on Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed Monday, April 30, after which the sale will continue through Sunday May 6.
The Swain Sports sale will be featuring bicycles; bicycle parts, tools, accessories and helmets; winter, summer and workout clothing; footware; baseball and football cleats; swimsuits; cross country skis and boots; and assorted odds and ends including paint ball guns, Frisbees, and skate sharpeners. Light fixtures, shelving, computers and desks with also go — “anything that isn’t nailed down.”
“Everything will be priced to go. It will be a progression sale. As time goes on, the items remaining will be discounted further,” Pritchard confirms.
“I’m going to miss the store. It was never like a real job to me,” he confesses. “We got to play with what we sold and made many great friendships. The decision was extremely difficult because this has been part of me, and my lifestyle, for almost half of my life.”
Pritchard never considered selling a bike to someone as making a sale. Rather, he saw it as educating them to make the right purchase.
While the loss of Swain will be sorely felt on Main Street, there may be a silver lining: “A rumor,” according to Pritchard, that Mike Duke may be opening a small scale bike servicing business at a commercial Geneseo location.
“We wish him the best of luck with that,” Pritchard said.