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Obituary: James M. Chick, 76


James M. (Jim) Chick, a legend in the world of sporting goods retail, died last week at the age of 76.

Chick was president & CEO of Chick’s Sporting Goods, headquartered in Covina, CA, for nearly 40 years. He helped transform a small family sporting goods business into an industry success story.

Under Chick’s leadership, Chick’s Sporting Goods ushered in the mix of action sports into the sporting goods landscape with his store’s embrace of leading surf and skate brands in its overall sporting goods product mix. Chick’s Sporting Goods was also known for its specialty store feel and the care it took in merchandising.  

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 2,000 and 5,000 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 acquired by Dick’s Sporting Goods in November 2007 when Chick decided to retire. During his career, Chick also served as a member of the NSGA board of directors from 1985 to 1994 and board chairman in 1992.

The Chick family has set up a scholarship fund and any contributions can be sent 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.