New digs for Sportsmen's Den

Skye Kinkade
The Kennedy family is working to prepare the old Bank of America building to be the new location of Sportsmen’s Den. They’re planning for a soft opening on July 14 with a grand opening at the end of July or early August. Pictured are 
Filicity and John Jr. and their 
children, JT and Benjamin; Jeanette and John Kennedy Sr. on the steps of their new location. Photo 
contributed by Taryn Burkleo

Sportsmen’s Den in Mount Shasta has planned a moving sale before opening in their new location, the old Bank of America building at 100 Chestnut St.

Turning the old bank building, built in 1968, into a sporting goods store has taken considerable work, said owner John Kennedy, Jr. They’ve knocked out the wall behind where the teller desks used to be to make a space for snowboard rentals and repairs.

One of the bathrooms is being converted into a trophy room, and the old vault will be transformed into a team sales area, said John Kennedy, Sr., who purchased the business that first opened in 1945 in 1973.

The new location boasts about 1,000 square feet of extra retail space compared to their current location at the corner of N. Mt. Shasta Blvd. and Castle Street.

The Kennedys are planning to open the new location July 14. They’ve scheduled the moving sale for July 1 to 13.

Sportsmen’s Den currently employs 10 people, and in the snowy winters, that number rises to 14 or 15.

The move comes on the heels of an unprofitable winter during which the Mt. Shasta Ski Park had too little snow to open.

Kennedy Jr. said it would have been nice to have the extra capital from a solid winter season in advance of the move, but the opportunity presented itself and he ran with it.

Kennedy Sr. purchased the former bank building in December after bidding in an unusual auction. He was not the highest bidder, or even second or third highest bidder, but those who made higher bids all dropped out.

In the new location, “We’ll be able to display our inventory differently, and hopefully encourage locals to shop here at home for things like shoes, sweatshirts, t-shirts and sporting items,” said Kennedy Jr. “You don’t have to go to Redding or Medford. We’ve got it right here with competitive pricing.”

Long local history

Kennedy Sr. said Sportsmen’s Den was opened in 1945 just after World War II by Sylves and Mary Minoletti at a different location further north on Mt. Shasta Blvd. He purchased the store on Oct. 8, 1973 when it was located in the storefront next to where it is now.

“At that time it was mostly a hunting and fishing store, with some athletic clothing for the high school, Chuck Taylor Converse tennis shoes, camping supplies, baseball equipment and some miscellaneous gear,” Kennedy Sr. said.

“I always knew I wanted to go into business for myself. The job I was working at was supposed to be temporary at College of the Siskiyous, so when I heard about it being for sale, I decided to look into purchasing it. I was originally going to go into a partnership with someone else but it fell through at the last moment, so I purchased it myself with a loan from my parents.”

Kennedy Sr. said he had no experience running a business and didn’t know how to purchase goods. A salesman showed him the ropes.

“As I started out, I was thinking that everyone would be storming into the store and business would be booming,” Kennedy Sr. said. “But I soon learned that with winter coming, business would be very slow with some days only one or two customers. This would continue until March and April, when fishing and baseball would start. Then came summer and the tourists and fall, when hunting began and kids went back to school. I did this for two years and as the business started to grow, I decided to go into the ski and ski rental business to increase our winter sales.”

He took on a partner to help out because he needed someone who knew about skiing. He said that helped the business grow “leaps and bounds,” but after two years, his partner decided to move on and Kennedy Sr. bought him out and continued on his own.

About this time, Kennedy Sr. purchased the building where the store is now located and remodeled it.

For a year, he kept both stores: one for hunting, fishing and sporting goods; the other a ski shop and trophy and t-shirt print store.

A year later, the old Ski Bowl at the top of the Everitt Memorial Highway got hit by an avalanche and operated on a limited basis. It then closed for good.

In 1978, Kennedy Sr. sold Sportsmen’s Den, and the new owners moved it entirely into its current location. He said they operated it for four years before he purchased it back from them in 1982.

“At that time it had been run down to the point that it was not much of a sporting goods store anymore... It was a struggle... but being persistent, working long hours and living on a shoestring we started to get things going again,” Kennedy Sr. said.

When the Mt. Shasta Ski Park opened a few years later, Sportsmen’s Den again became a year-round business.

John Kennedy Jr. purchased a half interest in the store in 1999, then bought his dad’s share in 2009 and became full owner.

He opened a Sportsmen’s Den in Klamath Falls, Ore., in 2005 and continues to operate that.

Kennedy Jr. said he knew from the time he was about 12 that he wanted to take over the business.

Sportsmen’s Den now provides sports equipment to schools, leagues, teams and individuals from Chico and into southern Oregon, and that part of the business has grown much stronger over the past five to seven years, Kennedy Jr. said.

“It is a great feeling to know you have such a great community willing to pull together to support one another,” said Kennedy Jr. “I really want to thank all the individuals and families that have supported us in the past and into the future.”