Anyone who has driven on Route 58 in Riverhead knows Edwards Sports Center, a sporting goods store that has become something of a town landmark, standing there since 1954.
Owners Diane and Ron McGee have decided it’s time for them to retire, and with that comes the closing of their longstanding store. It sits on the corner of East Main Street and Route 58 in Riverhead and has become known for its selection of firearms, ammunition and hunting gear.
There is no official closing date yet, but the couple hopes to remain open through the winter to empty out their inventory, with almost everything on sale.
Ms. McGee’s father and grandfather opened the store in December of 1954, making this December the 64th anniversary. She and her husband took over in 1971, and after nearly 47 years, they’re finally ready to throw in the towel.
“I’m ready now. I definitely wasn’t before,” she said.
Ms. McGee grew up in this store, originally called Edward’s Home Craftsman and Sports Center, named after her father and grandfather, both named Edward Goodfield.
“I remember it being built. I remember the day it opened up,” she said.
It started out as a location for summer visitors to stop in and buy beach gear for the day, and now they carry items for all outdoor sports, like hunting, archery, fishing and clothing for those activities.
The addition of big box sporting goods stores, like Dick’s and Sports Authority, led them to change their business model over the years, shifting focus from items like baseball bats and gloves that were once a popular seller but became too hard to match the prices of the chain stores.
The McGees have no major plans for their retirement except for spending more time with family.
“I’m going to miss going to work,” she said. Even on a rare day off, she often ended up at the store anyway, she said.
“You’ve got two marriages: your own personal marriage and your business marriage,” Ms. McGee added. “We are here seven days a week.”
They originally took over the store because Mr. McGee was a fan of fishing and hunting, but despite owning a store full of potential recreational activities, they haven’t even had a chance to participate.
“When you’re here seven days a week, you don’t have time for that,” she said. “I don’t even have time for my pool when I go home at night.”
Their three children had no interest in taking over the family business and instead all became teachers.
“We wanted them to have a life where they didn’t have to work seven days a week,” she said.
Mr. McGee said he has always looked forward to coming to work every day, despite the long days and busy schedule.
“Sitting and talking to people, that’s probably what I’ll miss the most,” he said.
Since the McGees were unable to travel because of the business, they participated in American Cultural Student Exchange, where they would host students from European countries, so their children could learn about other cultures without travelling.
The property has a buyer, Ms. McGee said, but did not reveal who it was. It will not remain a sporting goods store, she confirmed.
“I’d like to thank all of our wonderful customers who have supported us over the years,” Ms. McGee said holding back tears. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t still be here.”
Photo caption: Owners Diane and Ron McGee are planning to close the store and retire. (Rachel Siford photo)