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Obituary: Hall of Famer Jim Chick, 76


James M. Chick, a powerful and well-respected retailer in sporting goods before he sold his southern California chain to Dick’s Sporting Goods in 2007, passed away March 7 at age 76. Chick also served the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) as Chairman of the Board and was inducted into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame in 2004.

Chick was President & CEO of Chick’s Sporting Goods, which was headquartered in Covina, CA, for nearly 40 years.

Chick’s father Jim Sr., opened the first Chick’s Sporting Goods store in 1949. It was purchased by Jim Jr.’s grandparents, Ralph and Hazel Chambers, as an investment in their grandson’s future. Jim Chick Jr., worked at the store during high school and for 30 hours a week while he was a full-time student in business at Cal Poly Pomona University. In 1968, at age 21, he purchased the company from his grandparents and in 1976 he moved the store into an old 22,000-square foot grocery store while most of his competitors were in spaces between 2000 and 5000-square feet.

The move kicked off the transformation of Chick’s Sporting Goods from one small-town store with $180,000 in annual sales to 16 stores and $90 million in sales. The company also made a significant impact in the communities where it was located by donating $10,000 per store to local schools and sports-related youth organizations. Chick’s Sporting Goods was consistently listed among the industry’s top 100 annual retailers and Chick was honored by the industry with the Sporting Goods Dealer Leadership Award in 1988, the Licensed Products Retailer of the Year in 1995 and the Retail Merchandising Trendsetter of the Year runner-up in 2001.

Chick’s Sporting Goods was acquired by Dick’s Sporting Goods in November 2007 when Chick decided to retire. He loved spending time with friends and family through the years at his Claremont home, Laguna Beach house and Idaho ranch. Although his memory gradually faded as he suffered from dementia he was surrounded by people who loved him.

“Mr. Chick exemplified the best attributes of our industry,” said NSGA President & CEO Matt Carlson. “He led a family business in Chick’s Sporting Goods to tremendous growth and he made sure the company gave back to the people in the communities where they were located. He also shared his time and expertise to help his peers succeed through his work on the NSGA Board. We are saddened to learn about Mr. Chick’s passing and we extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Chick was the first-born child of Elizabeth Eleanor Chick and James Elmo Chick and he had two sisters, Betsy Muenyong and Cindy Chick. He was married for 30 years to his fourth wife Karen and she lovingly cared for him in sickness and health. Chick had two children, Angela (Angie) Patrice and James (Jimmy) Robert, with his first wife Martha and they had 5 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life Ceremony for James M. Chick will be held Saturday, April 29, 2023, from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. at South Hills Country Club, Citrus Street, West Covina, California 91791. In lieu of flowers, the family of James M. Chick requests contributions be made to the Cal Poly Pomona Philanthropic Foundation, P.O. Box 3121, Pomona, California 91769. Checks may be written to CPPPF Memo: James M. Chick Scholarship Fund.

Editor’s Note: I had the pleasure of getting to know and interviewing Jim Chick a number of times and found him to be one of the most personable, intelligent and accommodating people in the industry at the time when names such as Koenig’s, Gardenswartz, Oshman’s and Modell’s dominated the sporting goods landscape. His knowledge of the business paid off when he was one of the early regional chains to sell out to Dick’s Sporting Goods – and it gave us a chance to have some really creative headlines when Dick’s purchased Chick’s. I respected him as chairman of NSGA and enjoyed his induction into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. Another good guy I had the pleasure to know in the world of sporting goods. — Michael Jacobsen, Editor