A century is a long time to keep a business afloat, but Reddish Sporting Goods
has managed to do just that.
Reddish Sporting Goods moved to 400 Main St. six years ago, but the family-owned business has been an East Toledo fixture since 1909.
"We opened up our shop in 1991," said Gary Reddish, who owns the business with his wife, Debra. "Previous to that, my father (Maxwell) had the sporting goods store. When he died in 1990, we put together our own shop and opened in 1991.
"We consolidated our lines down considerably. Dad's shop was a full sporting goods store - everything from tennis rackets to scuba diving gear. When Dad died, his partner and his partner's widow decided to close the store. My wife and I wanted to continue the family business, and we decided it was necessary to consolidate the lines a little bit. We do a lot of other things, but our primary four lines are martial arts supplies and boxing equipment, wrestling equipment and trophies and awards."
Reddish said 65 percent of the store's business comes from making and engraving sports trophies.
"We felt that was a good fit, in order to try to compete with the big box stores and do things they don't do," Reddish said.
Reddish worked at his father's store all through high school. When Reddish went to work for Owens-Illinois, he would come into the store and work on the trophies during his spare time.
When Reddish's father fell ill in 1988, Reddish moved to Toledo from Strasburg, Ohio, to help run the family business.
"I ran the shop for my dad until he passed away," Reddish said.
Reddish's grandfather, William Reddish, and a man named Jacobs started a hardware store in East Toledo in 1909. William Reddish eventually bought out Jacobs prior to 1920, and the store was renamed Reddish Hardware.
"After World War II my father wanted to put more sporting goods back in the hardware store," Reddish explained. "He expanded the sporting goods side of it. Sporting goods started to develop in the late 1940s. When my grandfather died, my dad took over the hardware business. In the 1950s my father and my uncle Robert were running the hardware store at the corner of Starr and East Broadway, the same location as the original hardware store."
William Reddish got out of the hardware portion of the business in 1970. Gary Reddish relocated the business to the corner of Starr and Dearborn in 1990.
"My father was totally into the sporting goods," Reddish said. "It was located in the upstairs of the store. My uncle had hardware on the first floor.
"Hardware was getting too competitive. That was the beginning of the big box stores and it was getting too tough to compete with those stores. He decided to close up and retire, and we moved the (sporting goods) business from the second floor to the first floor."
Today, Reddish Sporting Goods also sells school apparel such as T-shirts, sweatshirts and school bags along with baseball bases, helmets, volleyballs, basketballs and footballs.
"We have a lot of the things you'd find in the old-time sporting goods stores, things you don't find in the big stores," Reddish said.
Reddish added that he wanted to keep the family business in East Toledo because, "that's where my roots are."
"I was born and raised here," he said. "My family had always been East Toledoans. We looked to move (the business) downtown in the warehouse district and in Oregon and Northwood, but we always wanted to stay in East Toledo."
Reddish admitted that business has been "rough" over the past 18 months because of the economy, but Reddish Sporting Goods continues to hold its own.
"We're doing as best that can be expected due to the economic climate," Reddish said. "My mother (Pauline Margy), who is 94, says if the store could make it through the Great Depression, we can make it through the second one. My arms aren't long enough to box with Mom, so we're agreeing with her."
Reddish has two full-time employees, Gary and Debra Reddish, while their son, Max, works part-time. Store hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
For more information on Reddish Sporting Goods, call 419-691-1441.