Herb’s Sport Shops will close its West Hartford Center store after 44 years in business.
By Ronni Newton
Signs were posted on Herb’s Sport Shops this week, advertising a 50 percent off store closing sale that will be the end of a more-than-four-decade era for the retail store in West Hartford.
Owner Andrew Sheintop, who took over the family business from his father Herb, confirmed that the 60 LaSalle Rd. store will close at the end of October.
“It’s the economy, and issues of being in retail in West Hartford Center,” said Sheintop, who grew up and went to school in West Hartford. He also grew up with the store that his father opened in West Hartford in 1971.
Sheintop said closing the store was a tough decision, but said that changes in the Center, especially in the past 8 to 10 years, have made it difficult for his business. “There are less good, solid retail store that attract families. They’ve been replaced by restaurants and bars,” he said.
“Then the town decided we needed new parking meters,” Sheintop said.
He said the parking situation has made it difficult for a business like his, where people would often run in just to buy a mouthpiece and then find other things they needed, and has hurt foot traffic other than at night when the spaces are filled with people in restaurants and bars. “It drove away families that would come shopping,” said Sheintop.
His competition – like Westfarms, Buckland Hills, Evergreen Walk, and box stores – offers free parking. Online shopping, he said, has also had a major effect on the business at Herb’s. “People shop online first and then we would match the price and they still don’t buy it,” Sheintop said.
Sheintop said that he has been treated very fairly by the building owner, Sinatro Brothers, but it just doesn’t make financial sense for him to operate the West Hartford store anymore.
“The 90s were really good, but we never fully recovered from [the major recession] 08-09,” said Sheintop.
“I’d like to thank all of the people who’ve shopped there. I just wish there were more of them in recent years,” he said.
Herb’s will continue to service its team business, which includes West Hartford’s high schools as well as youth and travel teams.
The Bristol store (51 Wooster Court) will remain open and some of the West Hartford employees will relocate there.
The LaSalle Road lease is up at the beginning of November and the store is expected to close by the end of October.
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These parking meters are killing the Center’s business. They are the most obnoxious addition to the town.
Whoever is gaining from this will pay in the end
Most of the time they won’t even take quarters. They can’t expect someone to put it in their credit card for an hour to run into Starbucks to buy a coffee.
I am sorry to see them go, but I have not felt a welcoming presence in that store for the last few years. I have gone in and there is not much inventory and the person behind the counter is just “there”. We had parking meters before and it did not stop folks so why are they now the bad guy?
I have found they have a good selection of sports products, and their service has been helpful…But it seemed like I was the only person shopping in the center…no other customers around.. Maybe Tracey caught them on a bad day( everyone has them)… Being a long time customer I do remember the old parking meters, and they were a lot easier to use…and if someone left a space with time remaining it was like winning the lottery.. Too bad more people don’t support the Center anymore.. I’ll go to Bristol to shop at Herb’s…can’t beat their quality of items they sell compared to the box stores….
Agreed Linda. I no longer shop in my own town due to the meters. South Windsor gets my shopping dollars.