Strong spring for sporting goods stores

Mar. 6—SCRANTON — Local equipment shops welcome the rush of high school athletes gearing up for spring after Dick's Sporting Goods temporarily closed at the Viewmont Mall.

From high-end baseball and softball bats to carbon-fiber-plated running shoes, stores like Battaglia's Sporting Goods on Wyoming Avenue and Scranton Running Co. on West Olive Street prepared for the demand.

"We loaded up early, about six to eight months ago," said Paul Ezbiansky, owner of Battaglia's.

The Dick's and Field & Stream stores at the Viewmont Mall closed in late January as the location transitions to a new concept called Dick's House of Sport expected to open around the beginning of August.

During the conversion, Dick's plans to open a temporary location at 1600 Nay Aug Ave. in Scranton which may open as soon as the end of March, a store official said Monday.

In the meantime, local shops fill the void.

Battaglia's, a staple on Wyoming Avenue for more than three decades, carries equipment for all spring sports.

Busiest months include March and April, and Ezbiansky noticed a steady flow of customers Saturday.

"We mostly sell to teams and Little Leagues," he said. "We do some retail business and people looking for things last minute will come in."

Matt Byrne, owner of Scranton Running Co. and Forty Fort-based Valley Running Co., admittedly hadn't given much thought to the impact of Dick's closure on his store but noticed an increase in business.

"We've had a lot more foot traffic than normal in January and February, and March is always one of our busier, if not our busiest month of the year," he said. "I feel like it's probably going to continue through March."

Byrne believes the store's ability to source certain models and colors of shoes gives it an advantage over shops in the area.

"We're considered a run specialty account, so by default that gives us access to some shoes others can't get," he said.

Despite stores like Scranton Running Co. establishing an online presence, some customers gravitate to discount sporting goods websites to find bargains.

"People go online to buy a lot of things because you can get some good deals on a lot of stuff," said Mark Avellino, president of the Jessup Youth Sports Association.

And many players order bats directly from manufacturer's websites, said Holy Cross head softball coach Joe Ross.

"The big thing with the bats now is they come with a warranty because they're cracking so much," Ross said. "It's vital you get the warranty, especially with the weather in Northeastern PA."

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