The first Sport Chalet opened its doors back in 1959, in a small La Cañada flintridge ski shop location. The owners Norbert and Irene Olbertz eventually grew their business into a very successful chain with more than fifty locations. After 57 years however, the popular shop went out of business. They began having going out of business sales early this month in their 47 remaining locations. Locations will remain open while the company clears out merchandise. The bulk of the stores were in California with 40 locations, five in Arizona and two in Las Vegas. The company has not officially stated how many employees where a part of the company, but it’s known that in March 2014 the chain employed 1,200 full-time workers and 1600 part-time.
Rumors had been swirling for weeks that the retailer might be filing for bankruptcy and shutting down. Representatives of Vestis retail group, a company which purchased the Sport Chalet chain in 2014, would only say that they were evaluating their options. In an internal memo however Vestis Chief Executive Mark Walsh claimed that the Sport Chalet chain had been on the brink of liquidation at the time they had bought it. Sport Chalet was given time to recover but failed to “due, in part, to unique competitive pressures.” Sport Chalet had apparently been slipping under financially for years having reported a profit for the last time in 2007, and was more than $52 million dollars in debt when Vestis bought it for $17 million. Like many walk in businesses Sport Chalet faced fierce competition from online retailers, and mega chains like Target Corp. who have a large customer base and equipment that appeals to the casual sports enthusiast. As previously mentioned Sport Chalet is not alone in their falter, with the sporting goods giant Sports Authority filing for bankruptcy in March, and planning to close 140 of its 463 locations.