By Mike Kinney
Blue Sky Sports, the legendary local sporting goods store that’s been operating in Pinole for four decades, is set to close in the fall.
“I am ready to retire after 40 years of working and the COVID-19 didn’t help either,” owner Gregg Fehr said. “Our business is based on schools and sporting leagues, I have seen three generations of schools and leagues. The COVID-19 has now changed all of that. So, I felt this was the right time to shut down our business.”
The store at 1736 San Pablo Ave. is currently offering a 30 percent discount.
“We have a lot of merchandise to liquidate,” Fehr said.
Fehr’s social media announcement about the impending closure garnered hundreds of comments from grateful community members who have patronized the store over the years.
“I am so humbled by the amount of love coming from our customers,” he said. “It’s really difficult for me to express all my emotions at this time. It all still seems a bit surrealistic. A good friend of mine told me many years ago that ‘the customer is the lifeblood of any company. Without them, you have no business.’ We certainly tried to operate by that standard. To me, many of our customers were more than that.”
Fehr named his business after the band he played in while in high school in the 1970s.
“We decided to put in an order of tee-shirts for the band to wear,” he said. “The guy who was going to make the band shirts totally messed up the order. When that happened I thought I could do a better job and so I built myself a four-color printer and that’s how my business started.”
Initially operating from a garage in El Sobrante, Blue Sky Sports found a home in Pinole and became a regionally known name and supplier of sporting equipment and uniforms, doing business with a diverse group that includes grammar schools, businesses and government agencies. Blue Sky has been offering corporate identity and promotions, screen printing, embroidery, lettering, engraving, trophies along with banners and signs.
“The secret to our success is we are a team sports business that is family owned,” Fehr said. “We are not a big box store. When I realize after 40 years of being in this business we have over 65,000 people who know who we are, I’m just taken away.”
Customers “felt like our extended family,” Fehr said.
“We really enjoyed taking the time with a personal conversation, sharing stories about what was happening and enjoying a moment,” he said. “That is certainly something that will be missed.”
Fehr paid tribute to all of the employees who’ve helped make Blue Sky a success all these years. He said it “warms his heart” to see young people he employed in the past return to say hello, now all grown up and with families.
“I appreciated their dedication and great work,” he said, adding, “It seems crazy that 40 years has gone by so quickly. I knew this day would eventually happen, but I wasn’t expecting it quite yet.”
Fehr said it’s time to start a new chapter.
“So thank you to our loyal customers and friends, we couldn’t have done it without you,” he said.