After 37 years in Cullman, Cummings Sporting Goods will close its doors next month.
Owner Steve Cummings cited the sluggish economy, increased competition and changes in the baseball and softball bat industry as the main reasons for the decision. The store will officially shut down at some point in mid-to-late February.
“I started working here when I was 11 and I’m 48-years-old now,” Cummings said. “We’ve limped along and tried to get back into it. You hate to make the call, but we’ve been going backwards. It’s just tough.”
The store opened in 1976 as a bait and tackle shop, then quickly transitioned into producing trophies and selling sporting goods within the next few years. The shop has been at its current location in the Cullman Shopping Center since 1989, after bouncing between three other locations in the 13 years prior.
Cummings’ mother Charlotte managed the store until her death in 2003, which is when Steve took over. Despite her passing, Charlotte’s legacy lives on via the Charlotte Cummings Memorial Scholarship, which is still awarded annually to a local student in her honor.
The store lost some major contracts to competitors in recent years, plus Cummings said he recently had to absorb approximately $50,000 of his baseball and softball bat inventory after the sports’ governing bodies banned those models in league play.
“That really hurt, along with the economy,” he said.
Though he will miss minding the store, Cummings said he’s also sad to see the downtown staple close after everything it has meant to the community over the years.
“We’ve had, probably, over 100 employees over the years in this community,” he said. “We’ve always been there to buy yearbook ads and support these local causes. It’s always been a family thing.”
Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce President Leah Bolin said the closure is a major hit to the local retail scene, with one of the oldest local businesses shuttering its doors.
“I’ve gone there my entire life and they have been a true mainstay of the community,” she said. “This is such sad news to hear, because growing up here, I’ve known the Cummings family and remember back to when Charlotte was running it all those years. That family has done so much for this community over the years, not just in terms of retail, but they’ve given back so much in their time and energy.”
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.