For the first time in 63 years, Dave’s Sports Shop — a much-loved sporting goods store in Lynden’s Fairway Center — may be owned and operated by someone other than a VanderHoek.
Current owners Dave and Claudia VanderHoek are perched on the edge of retirement, and they are ready to sell the business to someone who appreciates the community and outdoor recreation as much as they do.
“This has been a wonderful lifestyle business – one that has allowed us to connect deeply with a supportive community and staff members over the years, and to work together as a family,” Dave VanderHoek said. “Being in this industry has allowed me and our family a chance to enjoy countless fishing and hunting trips and other memorable outings.”
“Claudia and I won’t be leaving the community,” he said. “We’re simply ready to pass this opportunity on to someone else who would like to grow the business as my family has for decades.”
A long history in Lynden
Since 1957, the VanderHoek family has provided fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation supplies to people from Whatcom County, the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and beyond.
The first store — Jude’s Sporting Goods & Housewares at 411 Front Street — was owned and operated by Dave’s parents, Jude and Gert VanderHoek. That store and its owners became part of Lynden culture and history, so much so that the Lynden Pioneer Museum built a replica of Jude’s storefront that contains authentic photos and products from the 1950s and ′60s.
Over the decades, the VanderHoek family continuously operated the sporting goods store in downtown Lynden and in Fairway Center under several names, including Coast to Coast Hardware and Ace Hardware & Sports. The store became known as Dave’s Sports Shop when it moved to its current location — 1738 Front Street — in 2007. That move tripled the size and expanded the operation into a full-line sporting goods store.
Countless citizens and four generations of VanderHoeks have worked in the business, including all of Dave and Claudia’s five children and most recently their oldest grandchildren, Jude and Arie VanderHoek.
Handing off a family-run business
The VanderHoeks have recently been pondering retirement and the transition of Dave’s Sports Shop to new owners.
“We had a five-year plan at one point, then we looked up and 13 years had gone by,” Claudia VanderHoek said. “Time sure flies when you’re having fun and enjoying your community. It is now time to slow down, spend more time with our grandchildren and volunteer more.”
Dave said that he and Claudia have managed the business for so long that all five of their adult children have found occupations of their own. Some moved out of the area, and each has established their own career. The family is comfortable with the store not transitioning to the next generation.
“It is more important that the store continues to thrive and serve the community,” Dave said. “We’ll be happy to transition the business to someone outside the family who can move forward with fresh energy and new ideas.”
Industry optimism and growth opportunities
This year has been great for sales at Dave’s Sports Shop, even though the shop was closed for five weeks at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the business reopened May 1, it was flooded by existing customers looking to restock their outdoor recreation supplies. Dave and Claudia also saw a lot of new faces — people who wanted to try outdoor activities, many for the first time.
“Lots of young parents came in and bought fishing gear,” Dave said. “They had never been fishing before, and they wanted to take their kids outdoors.”
Sales in the fishing department, he said, including crabbing and shellfish harvesting equipment, have skyrocketed as a result of the pandemic. The same is true of hunting supplies.
Like similar businesses across America, Dave’s Sports Shop also has seen steep increases in gun and ammunition sales this year, with citizens concerned about an elevated level of societal unrest.
“More people are coming into the store for personal protection reasons,” Dave said, “and it has been hard to keep the shelves stocked with the supplies people want due to high demand and low supply in the current times.”
The VanderHoeks say that there is potential for continued strong growth in the business, thanks to the many people who have now been exposed to — and found themselves loving — outdoor sports.
“There is a real opportunity to expand product lines and build online sales,” Claudia said. “Someone will be able to quickly build upon a very solid base; we’ll be happy to share our knowledge and industry insight with those who may be interested in exploring this opportunity.”
What is next in the process?
For now, it’s business as usual – Dave, Claudia and the full team will continue to serve customers and the community as they have over decades past. They will speak directly with anyone who would like to explore ownership of Dave’s Sports Shop, although they are asking that those conversations not take place in the store.
Interested parties can send a quick email to Claudia at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.
Visit http://www.davessports.com/ to learn more about Dave’s Sports Shop.