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Sports apparel stores struggle in down economy

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By Bradley Jeffers

Contributing Reporter  

A few lights provide enough comfort to those who park their cars in a dark parking lot. It’s a Saturday night in Roseville, and the only sign of life is the fact that a few dozen cars are huddled close to the nearby mall. Inside, a business owner quietly wonders how much longer he will be able to stay in business.

This is a reality that is faced by Bob Roberts, owner and purchaser for Home Teams, a store that specializes in sports apparel and accessories. Due to recently difficult economic times, he was forced to close one of his three stores, and at this rate, he’s not sure how much longer the others will last.

“You know, I never thought I’d see this day. It’s not that we expected to compete with national chains, but I really thought we were secure. It’s not Macomb Mall’s fault that we’re not getting business … there’s no business anywhere.”

As of 2008, Roberts’ business had three locations: inside Macomb Mall, near Lakeside Mall and one in Port Huron. Poor sales and elevating rent costs forced the Port Huron location to close in early 2009.

Despite the situation, Roberts remains optimistic.

“I mean, I know anything is possible, but we’ve done really well selling Tigers merchandise the last couple of years. If they have another season like they did in 2006, I’m sure a lot of local businesses will benefit from it.”

Home Teams’ employees are trying to avoid thinking about what could happen if they lose their jobs. Sarah Klein fears she would have to drop out of college.

“I really need this job so I can continue to go to school.  I know a lot of my friends aren’t able to find a job right now. It’s not easy right now, but we’re all making sacrifices right now.”

Customers are anxious as to what this will mean for them.

“I think this is great. I mean not that I want anyone to lose their jobs, but if everyone is hurting, businesses are going to have to be a lot more competitive. So instead of paying 20 bucks for a shirt, now I might only have to pay 15,” said Robert Camargo.  

Unfortunately, there is only so much that business owners can and are willing to do. For Roberts, he has a motto he’s lived by his entire life, and he feels is more relevant now than ever.

“We can only live one day at a time.”

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Oakland University's independent student newspaper.