‘Kind of a hobby’ | CraigDailyPress.com

‘Kind of a hobby’

Carlson family opens Sports Connection in Centennial Mall

John Vandelinder

If you go

What: Sports Connection

Where: Centennial Mall, 1111 W. Victory Way, Suite 123

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday

Call: 824-1995

As a sports-minded family, the Carlsons’ decision was an easy one.

Feeling as though Craig needed somewhere for athletes to gear up for their respective seasons, Todd and Cena Carlson put their heads together.

What the duo came up with was the town’s newest business.

Sports Connection opened its doors to the public Saturday, signaling the beginning of more than a year’s worth of planning.

“We’ve been working on it for about a year now,” Cena said. “We actually started out wanting to open an Athlete’s Foot. We checked into it, and they were interested in coming here, then we just got to thinking about all the different things that Craig doesn’t have, so it just kind of evolved from there.

“We’re hoping it keeps evolving.”

Stepping in to the store located in the west side of Craig’s Centennial Mall, you immediately see a Reebok shoe display, basketballs, wrestling gear, tennis rackets, soccer equipment and pro and college hats.

The Carlsons and their store are in Colorado, but their allegiance isn’t just to the home team.

“We want to try to get all different kinds of merchandise in here,” Cena said. “Not just Broncos stuff, either. We are trying to get all the teams we can.”

The problem is, Cena said, it’s not as easy as one might think.

“We are working on the NFL,” she said. “Reebok makes the NFL products, but you have to be licensed with the NFL. We are actually open with Reebok, but to sell NFL merchandise we have to be licensed first.

“We have to be approved to sell certain merchandise, and my gosh, you have to jump through a lot of hoops.”

Despite not being able to find any NFL gear, the store is stocked with apparel for the upcoming high school sporting seasons.

Basketball and wrestling are around the corner, and Sports Connection offers a vast array of shoes, basketballs, headgear and pads for those who are about to hit the court or mat.

“Every order we put in, we put in the season before,” Cena said. “Clothes and sporting goods and stuff. So we try to go season-to-season and stay up to date with what sports are going on.”

Cena said the Carlsons currently are working on deals with Nike, adidas and other major sporting goods manufacturers.

“We’ve been trying really hard to get in with Nike for about a year,” she said. “The problem with Nike and adidas and some of the bigger stores like that, you have to order so much of their product it’s hard. I’ll give you a good example: With adidas, they told us we would have to order $20,000 of merchandise or product, and then we would have to sign a personal guarantee that we would sell 100,000 dollars worth of their product a year, for the next three years.”

So, until the bigger deals take place, it’s Reebok, Asics and Sketchers.

“It’s all a work in progress, trying to get some of the other products,” Cena said. “Hopefully we can get in to some of the sports that nobody else here carries, like soccer and wrestling.”

Cena said the response from the public has been positive so far, and she received a lot of encouraging feedback at Saturday’s grand opening.

Despite the economy being at what some perceive as a low point, the Carlsons aren’t concerned with making ends meet.

“When we started this whole thing, the economy was good,” Cena said. “As the store opening came closer and closer is went it kind of went down. I guess we’ll find out. We have time to play around with it.

“I guess you could say it’s kind of a hobby.”

John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com