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Owner of local sports shop explains reasons for closing after 21 years

Online sales, political stands cited as factors

Local sports store owner explains decision to close after 21 years

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The internet, economics and politics are factors in the closing of a sports apparel store at Chapel Hills Mall in Colorado Springs. 

Stephen Martin, owner of Prime Time Sports, said the growth in online shopping has reduced sales at his store, and he can no longer afford to pay his lease.

"In the past two years, I've had seven competitors within 30 miles of me close," he said.  "I'm the only full-service sporting apparel store between Castle Rock and the New Mexico line."

Martin also cites strong stands he took in 2016 against NFL football players who refused to stand during the national anthem at games to raise awareness of social injustice.

Martin canceled an autograph-signing session with Brandon Marshall, of the Denver Broncos, in fall 2016, and then stopped selling Nike products after the company aired an ad supporting Colin Kaepernick, then of the San Francisco 49ers.

Kaepernick started the anthem protest trend in 2016 and has not played since.

"People were wanting their money back.  They were threatening to never shop at the store again," Martin said.  "At that time, it was a business decision for me because I knew I wasn't going to be able to meet his $10,000 signing obligation.  But I did have support from many of my customers."

John Reilly is one of the supporters.

"I've come here at various times over the years," he said.  "He's got the best stock in town, and it's going to be missed."

Sara Boston has mixed feelings.

"To each their own," she said.  "That's kind of his way of doing business.  If I was a business person, I would have kept them separate -- my business and my feelings."

But some customers support the kneeling protests.

"There are other ways they can handle it, but who's to say?" said Dajuan Turner.  "Everyone has their own way of doing their causes."

Robert Ben is a Kaepernick fan.

"Is there a better way?" he said.  "Kaepernick walked the walk and he talked the talk.  He's actually gone out and tried to make an effort, not just taking a knee.  And I think people ought to realize that, too."  

Martin said he understands the protests but disagrees with how NFL players express them.

"When you disrespect the national anthem, you just anger people who respect it, fought for it and died for it," he said.  "The message just gets clouded.  I wish they had found a better way."

Martin said he expects to sell his stock in a month.

"I don't know what I'll do next," he said.  "Maybe get into politics."

The store has a 40 percent discount on all merchandise, and that bargain will get better as the closing date approaches.


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