Bittersweet Shopping As City Sports Customers Snap Up Closeout Deals

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Closeout sales are underway at City Sports on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston Friday. (Hadley Green/WBUR)
Closeout sales are underway at City Sports on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston Friday. (Hadley Green/WBUR)

Closeout sales got underway Friday at City Sports. Twenty-six stores in the athletic gear chain, including nine in Massachusetts, now sport big yellow and orange signs announcing percent-off markdowns.

The company, founded in 1983 and known for its matter-of-fact T-shirts, went to liquidation after declaring bankruptcy in October and failing to find a buyer to keep any of the stores open.

Business experts say City Sports expanded too quickly outside of Massachusetts, where the company identity was not strong, especially since most of its inventory was made by other name-brand companies.

WBUR’s Curt Nickisch spoke to customers outside the Commonwealth Avenue store Friday afternoon. Here's some what they had to say:

Isabella Romano:

I'm a student a Boston University; I'm a junior. I always saw people wearing the City Sports T-shirt. It's almost kind of been a staple.

So it's my go-to place whenever I need boxing gloves or boxing wraps. I do box! I don't know, I'm Italian, I'm from Chicago, it's just something that happens.

I'm not sure where I'm going to go now. Maybe I'll check out The Ring. I don't really know of a ton of other sports stores around here. I live right by the REI, but I don't think that's sporting goods.

Nick Meehan:

I just moved to Boston in August for school. And I've seen everybody wearing the Boston City Sports T-shirts around. I just wanted to stop by before they went out of business so I could get mine. It was like $16 for a long-sleeved T, so that's not bad.

City Sports on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston (Hadley Green/WBUR)
City Sports on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston (Hadley Green/WBUR)

Debbie Giorgio:

I've gotten shorts and running shorts for my daughter. I got her a winter jacket here one time. They used to do these sales outside.

Now I'm just here because they're going out of business. It was looking for a deal. But I didn't get anything, it's only 10 percent off right now. I'll come back in a few weeks when the discounts are bigger.

I feel bad, because all the poor people are going to lose their jobs. It's kind of sad.

Sean Widlake:

I've been a Boston City Sports customer for, I don't know, since I was a kid I guess, 15 years, 20 years. I'm an insider email member, so I got an email from them saying, 'We're going out of business.' And I was like, 'Oh, that's kind of weird.'

It's nice to go someplace that's not — if you want to try out something or test weights or see where you're at at a fitness level, you can do that here. They always had knowledgeable staff for tennis rackets which I used to buy.

You'd get all the knowledge, where if you're on Amazon or shopping for yourself you don't get all of that information.

Mariel Dweck:

We're just here because I needed a Frisbee. The sale didn't really affect us.

Josh Schrock:

I love shopping at City Sports. They've always had everything I've needed. This is where I go to get all my sporting apparel, sunglasses, weights, anything.

Pretty big bummer actually. I'm actually going to go hit the one downtown, too. And just give them as much business as I can before they leave.

I don't really know where I going to get my sporting goods stuff next. So I'll probably have to do most of it online I assume. Yeah, it's a bummer.

Claire Murphy:

I just moved to Boston at the beginning of this year. And I always see the City Sports T-shirts around Boston, so I though it would be really cool to get one before they went out of business.

And it seems kind of sad that they're going out of business, because it's been part of Boston's tradition.

This segment aired on November 6, 2015.

Headshot of Curt Nickisch

Curt Nickisch Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.



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