Mark McDermott

Best Sports Store

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dick's sporting goodsBest of the Beach logoDick’s Sporting Goods – It’s hard to fathom when you walk into any Dick’s Sporting Goods store – including the gleaming new store in El Segundo Plaza – that this expanding empire of big box stores began with the thwarted dream of an 18-year-old clerk at an Army/Navy store in a small New York town in 1948.

The company history tells the tale. Dick Stack was an avid fisherman, and because of this enthusiasm, his boss asked him if he thought selling fishing gear was a good idea. Dick burned the midnight oil for several nights and came back to his boss with a whole business plan. His boss summarily rejected the plan and Dick himself, telling him he had no idea what he was doing and would never make a good merchant.

Suffice it to say Dick got the last laugh. Dejected, he went home that night and told his grandmother his sad story. She went to her cookie jar, pulled out $300, and told Dick to follow his dreams. Today, there are 300 Dick’s Sport Goods stores, and each location features several stores within a store. It’s amazing how comprehensively stocked Dick’s is in everything from golfing goods to camping gear, basketball shoes, fitness equipment, guns, baseball gloves, bats, balls, and all manner of athletic clothing.

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Dick’s has come a long ways from the bait and tackle shack he opened up with his grandmother’s money, but one thing is surprisingly the same: in every aisle, you’ll find an enthusiast. A companywide initiative has urged the hiring of people “who live the brand.” On a random visit to the El Segundo store, for example, the sales associate back in the fitness section – amid elliptical machines, treadmills, running shoes and weight benches – actually is a licensed personal trainer with a degree in kinesiology. The staff is full of runners, ballplayers, and other genuine sporting enthusiasts. Dick’s dream is alive and well.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, 770 South Sepulveda Boulevard, El Segundo, 310-726-9123, www.dickssportinggoods.com

Runner-up:

Super Sports, 2930 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, 310-545-5272, www.supersportsmb.com

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