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Saturday, February 27, 2021

After 83 years, Al’s Sporting Goods mulls options including leaving city

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Christy Fleming
Christy Fleming
The managing editor of TownSquareDelaware.com, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.

Decade after decade, for 60 to 70 hours a week, Bob Hart has dedicated his life to Al’s Sporting Goods, a downtown Wilmington mainstay since 1935.

“My dad passed away last year, he was still working at 92, for 78 years here, and in three hours people can ruin your business,” Hart reflected in an anguished tone that matched the devastation of his showroom floor ravaged by looters on Saturday night.

For generations, Al’s has been the place to go for team uniforms, trophies, and sneakers, weathering the continuous storms that have roiled the retail sector, from suburban malls to big box competitors to e-commerce.

 

In 2008 Al’s moved into a new 17,000 square foot building at 200 N. Market Street where a gating system failed to stop Saturday night’s looters, who caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage and stolen merchandise.  Hart estimates 75 percent of clothing and footwear was destroyed or taken.

“I think they definitely needed more of a presence,” Hart said about police protecting Market Street businesses Saturday night.  “I was young in 1968 with the riots and the National Guard were stationed in front of our store because we had shotguns and rifles back then, we weren’t touched.”

 

Hart says the community’s outpouring of support has been uplifting, “we’ve had schools who say they can bring in their whole football team to help us [clean up] but we haven’t taken them up on it.”

But that support may not be enough to keep Hart and Al’s in Wilmington.

“We’re definitely going to be here, be a business, whether it’s here, whether it’s in a suburban location, whether we just do team business instead of the retail,” said Hart.

“We’ve had to put $1.2 million into this,” Hart said, referring to costs of moving in 2008 as a result of a land swap involving city property.

Police have visited Al’s to view security camera footage taken Saturday night but no arrests have been made.

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Latest News

COVID cases decline; more than 200,0000 vaccines given; state continues testing

The state has created a way for people to report violations of the state's vaccine policy

UD ramps up restrictions designed keep COVID cases from continuing to climb

The university brought 4,000 students back to campus for spring and one of the new rules says they are not allowed to have visitors.

New program allows people to dine out and help raise money for Do More 24 campaign

Restaurants will offer specials, and a portion of the sales will be donated, but that portion will be paid by a sponsor.
- Thank you to our sponsor -
- Thank you to our sponsor -

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