James M. Chick, owner of Chick’s Sporting Goods, dies at 76 – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

James M. Chick bought Chick’s Sporting Goods from his grandparents in 1968 at the age of 21. Dick’s Sporting Goods acquired the company for $72 million in November 2007 when Chick decided to retire. He died on March 7 at the age of 76. (Photos courtesy of the Chick family)

“He was a great man – one of those great men torn from the pages of time.”

This is how Tyler Chick remembers his grandfather. It’s an apt description of the man who grew Chick’s Sporting Goods into a retail powerhouse with 16 locations in Southern California – while remaining a touchstone for his family, friends and associates.

James M. Chick died in Upland on March 7, aged 76. He grew up in Covina and lived in Claremont shortly before his death. The end, his family said, came after a long battle with dementia and then pancreatic cancer.

“He was loving, kind, and giving… he always wanted to help people,” said his wife, Karen. “He loved his family, his business and his employees. He was nice to everyone.”

The firstborn child of James Elmo Chick and his wife Elizabeth, Chick’s entry into the business world began early when his father encouraged him to work at Chick’s Sporting Goods in downtown Covina, the first and only store his father opened in 1949 .

The business was later purchased by Chick’s grandparents, Ralph and Hazel Chambers, as an investment in their grandson’s future. He worked there while attending Charter Oak High School in Covina and continued his studies as an economics student at Cal Poly Pomona.

Read  Falcons find kicker with multi-sport athlete Yarosh | Sports

In 1968, at the age of 21, he bought the company from his grandparents and became President and CEO. Eight years later, he moved Chick’s to a 22,000-square-foot space that previously housed a supermarket. Most of its competitors’ stores were located in spaces ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet.

The move kick-started the Covina-based company’s expansion from a single store with annual sales of $180,000 to 16 locations that generated annual sales of $120 million. The company, which also had a distribution center in Southern California, operated stores in communities such as Covina, El Segundo, Tustin, Murrieta, Norco, Oceanside, Laguna Niguel and Moorpark, among others.

At its peak, the retail chain employed about 1,600 people.

Dick’s Sporting Goods acquired the company for $72 million in November 2007 when Chic decided to retire. According to Karen, the timing couldn’t have been better.

“It was interesting because 10 days after the company was sold, the economy went into the tank,” she said. “I guess the lord was looking out for us.”

The transaction was signed just before the Great Recession.

“While his reputation was larger than life, he was a simple man with simple loves,” said his grandson. “It was that humble pride and quiet confidence that I admired him for the most.”

This “calm confidence” served him well. Under his leadership, Chick’s has faced rivals such as Sport Chalet, a La Cañada Flintridge-based chain that closed all 47 of its stores in 2016, and Big 5 Sporting Goods, an El Segundo-based retailer that still operates more than 10 stores 400 locations in 11 western states.

Read  UFC 285 PPV price: How much does it cost to watch Jon Jones vs. Ciryl Gane on ESPN?

Chick also served as chairman of the National Sporting Goods Association and was inducted into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 2004. The Hall of Fame was established in 1955 to honor pioneers, innovators and leaders in the sporting goods industry.

“He has led a family business in Chick’s Sporting Goods to tremendous growth and ensured the company gives back to the people in the communities where it is located,” NSGA President Matt Carlson said in a statement. “We are saddened by the passing of Mr. Chick and offer our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Margaret Protteau, who served as Chick’s executive assistant for 35 years, described her role as “a dream job”.

“I am very blessed to have met him,” she said. “Chick’s was the Nordstrom of sporting goods stores. He will be greatly missed.”

Protteau continued to manage Chick’s investments after he retired and continues to oversee the family’s financial portfolio.

“For someone who’s worked so hard for so long, he has set the standard for what an entrepreneur should be – working late, taking risks, researching your industry, and embracing success and failure,” said Tyler Chick. “To us he was a father, a grandfather and the central pillar that held our family together.”

Jim Chick is survived by wife Karen Reza Chick, daughter Angela “Angie” Patrice (spouse Mark Anderson), son James Robert “Jimmy” (spouse Christina), grandchildren Brittany Anderson, Brianna Anderson, Alexa Anderson and Tyler Chick, Cody Chick (spouse Veronica) and great-grandchildren, Chase Laufer, Avery Laufer, Cadence Anderson, Sophia Chick, and Russell James “RJ” Chick.

Read  Manuel Ugarte is thriving with Sporting and Wolves must keep tabs

A life celebration for Chick will be held on Saturday, April 29 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the South Hills Country Club, 2655 S. Citrus St., West Covina.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to the Cal Poly Pomona Philanthropic Foundation, PO Box 3121, Pomona, 91769. Checks can be made payable to CPPPF Memo: James M. Chick Scholarship Fund or you can donate online by clicking here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button