It may be quaint, but it’s a popular well-known shop people have been getting their sporting equipment from for decades.
But the Harper Sport Shop in St. Clair Shores will be permanently closing its doors at the end of July after 67 years of business.
This sport shop holds years of memories for many locals. Children who shopped in the original store now shop here with their grandchildren. The same goes for the original owner, Les Seppala, who kept the tradition alive with his grandsons, Mark and Mike, who now run the shop.
But all of this will come to a bittersweet end when the doors officially close in a few weeks.
“There are guys here that have worked here since before I was born,” said Mark Seppala. “That’s like family to me, so to see this all come to an end is rough.”
Serving families on Detroit’s east side for more than half a century and sponsoring thousands of teams, Harper Sport Shop has also become a staple in the local community.
“I’ve been coming here at least 35 years,” said longtime customer, Mike Van Assche. “All my boys came up on this stuff, and they did the job.”
The problem is clearly not the customer service or the sales, it’s the evolution of a new business model. Simply, a handful of vendors work with a handful of retailers and leave everyone else out of the equation.
“We have been getting letters from our vendors stating they are changing their direction and we’re basically not big enough for them to deal with anymore,” said Mike Seppala.
Just like the shift a lot of metro Detroit mom and pop shops are being forced to take – online shopping only – and that seems to be the theme this country is taking.
Although there will be the easy access to home shopping at our fingertips, in this case, we’ll be losing the team trophies, school uniforms, sponsoring local athletes and the family touch.
As for the Harper Sports Shop, they will be selling out their inventory for the rest of the month, and then donating what is left to the various charities they’ve supported over the last 67 years.