If there's one thing Bacharach Rasin has learned over nearly 90 years in the sporting goods business, it's that survival means adapting to changing times.
The hunting guns the store sold in the 1960s aregone. So are the fishing poles. Now, the Severna Park store, part ofthe Baltimore business established in 1904, has taken the last of the tennis rackets and badminton nets off the shelves.
It seems that in the recession-plagued 1990s, fewer sports enthusiasts are shelling out money for luxuries like golf, tennis, squash, croquet and racquetball. But they're still playing football, basketball, softball, lacrosse and soccer.
For Bacharach Rasin, located inthe Valu Food Festival on Ritchie Highway, team sports are the sports of 1990s.
For one thing, kids continue to play team sports in school, so the equipment they need is considered more necessity than luxury, said general manager Joe Rehmert.
"People in today's economyare buying what they absolutely have to have," Rehmert said. "We're gearing our store to what people really have to have. They're findingthey don't have to buy a badminton set. They don't need a new set ofgolf clubs; the old ones are just fine. They don't need a new tennisracket; they can get it restrung."
By clearing the shelves of "luxury items" like croquet mallets and golf clubs, the store can devoteits space to team sports clothing and equipment -- softballs, bats and gloves, lacrosse helmets and sticks, cleats, basketballs, soccer balls, field hockey sticks and football jerseys.
The store also will now be able to offer prices 25 percent to 30 percent below retail on all items, whether they're purchased in bulk or not, Rehmert said.
Rehmert said sales of team sports equipment have remained extremely strong, while sales of the other equipment had been marginal, especially with the advent of specialty golf and tennis shops and the opening last year of the Sports Authority. The warehouse-sized store can stock large volumes and, therefore, offer below retail prices.
"With the prices so cutthroat, there wasn't any point in us being in that business and selling (the merchandise) for a lot more than they were and giving people the idea we're higher priced," Rehmert said.
The store will continue selling ice skates, roller skates and roller blades. It's also surveying county coaches to find out which equipmentthey prefer.
The first Bacharach Rasin store opened on North Howard Street in Baltimore in 1904, selling a full line of sporting goods, includ
ing fishing poles, outboard motors, guns and tents.
When the store was sold in the 1960s, the new owner moved it from downtown Baltimore to Towson. By that time, Bacharach was known nationwidefor lacrosse equipment, of which it had been the nation's earliest supplier. The Towson store stopped selling camping and hunting gear and focused on athletic equipment.
The Severna Park store opened in 1974, Rehmert said.