Sportstuff on Sumner Avenue in Springfield has long been an anchor business for the curious collection of shops and restaurants that come and go in the blink of an eye at the “X.” But not for much longer; after 28 years, Springfield residents Toni and Dave Trehey are closing their sports paraphernalia shop in the busiest hub in Forest Park.
“We’re retiring at the end of May,” Toni Trehey says simply. “After 28 years, I think it’s time.”
But like many small specialty shops, the Treheys’ business has also fallen victim to big competitors. “Business has gone down because of the big stores and the internet. And kids today love getting stuff in the mail,” Toni Trehey says.
Known for measuring customers’ feet to achieve the perfect fit, the Treheys are also known for their impeccable customer service. “We’re very unique,” Dave Trehey says. “We always give personal service and we have shoes you can’t find anywhere else.” And although patrons have expressed sorrow and dismay upon finding out about Sportstuff’s closure, he says there’s no one to whom they can pass the store down. Toni Trehey adds, “I don’t know who’s going to be left for these small stores after us.”
Jacob Baez, a repeat customer, says “it sucks,” that the Treheys are closing their doors. He didn’t know about it before hand. “They always have official stuff here and they beat everybody’s prices. You can’t find better prices.” When asked where he’ll shop after the end of May, Baez says he’ll have to go to the mall “where they tax everybody.”
Sportstuff’s abundant assortment of merchandise is cleanly and methodically arranged. Rows and columns of high-end brands, including Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, Converse, and Vans are present at every turn. It’s a sneaker head’s paradise; and these shoes, the Treheys assure, are all authentic.
Unlike the orderly world inside Sportstuff, however, there is a measure of chaos on the corners of Sumner and Lenox. Toni and Dave Trehey lament the number of stores that erratically open and close around them; they believe it creates instability in the neighborhood and directly affects their business.
“There have been years that have been better than others. There used to be a lot of classy stores up here but they’re all gone,” Toni Trehey says; Dave Trehey adds matter-of-factly, “this whole area has gone downhill over the last 10-15 years.”
Dave Trehey, however, gives credit to Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. “He was very much pro small business. He wants Springfield to be a big city, but at the same time, the neighborhoods are what puts the city together.”
Toni Trehey, however, says the “X” in Forest Park and other neighborhoods in the city have taken a turn for the worse. “There’s nobody that comes in and out these places anymore.”
But even if the neighborhood stabilized and despite the option to enter into a three-year lease extension, Toni Trehey says they wouldn’t stay open. “Our rent is way too high. For our business to have gone down, they should have accommodated us, they never did that … I’m very disappointed in that … it’s very disheartening.”
The Advocate reached out to Jewish Family Services, owners of 483 Sumner Ave. Maxine Stein, President and CEO of the organization, says that she does not “recall any request for a rental decrease” from the Treheys. Her only understanding is that they are retiring after 28 years.
What’s in store for the Treheys after Sportstuff closes at the end of May? “I’ll work part-time; what I really want to do is bake,” Toni laughs. “But whatever I do, I’ll have to be moving around.”
Gina Beavers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.