By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications
Editor’s Note: This story is part of a month-long series called the 25 Days of Downtown Christmas that will highlight the fantastic selection of retailers in downtown Garden City.
Screen printing is so deeply ingrained in Brian Rupp’s bones that he sometimes struggles to teach the process to others.
“I grew up working in it,” Rupp said with a chuckle during an interview at The Good Sport, 220 N. Main St. “That’s why it’s kind of hard for me to teach someone to screen print and stuff like that because when I was 14 years old, I was in there doing it.”
The Good Sport will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2018. Rupp’s parents started the business in 1978 along with three others who were bought out about a year later. The store was initially located on East Fulton Street where Fit Body Boot Camp is now located. A couple years later, the business moved downtown to Laurel Street and has been in its Main Street location since 1988. In 1992-93, the store essentially doubled in size when it expanded into a space next door.
Brian started helping out around the store at the age of 9 and spent many a summer and weekend at the store through high school. After college, Rupp worked at a couple of jobs elsewhere but always wanted to come back and run the store so he jumped when the opportunity arose.
After working for his mom, Coleen Rupp, for seven or eight years, Brian and his wife, Julie, bought the sporting goods part of the business in 1999 while his mother, and now his sister, operated the awards and trophies business separately. In addition to Rupp and his wife, the store employs five part time people.
Sporting goods and more
The Good Sport offers sporting goods, soft goods, licensed apparel and sports novelties, and shoes. Generally speaking, the store’s services are split into thirds between retail, screen printing services and embroidery. About six years ago, Rupp added full color digital printing that allows him to create banners, window films, and a variety of signage.
“If our heat press is on and we’ve got time to do it, we can print a shirt in one minute. We have a lot of people that come in from area schools. They pick out their size of tee-shirt or long sleeve tee or sweatshirt and we print it up for them right away,” he said.
A few years ago, the store added a CAD cut system that allows a variety of materials to be used in decorating apparel.
“Most of our stuff is custom, it’s things you can’t get somewhere else,” Rupp said. “It allows people to get things they want versus just stuff on the shelf. That makes it nice. It allows a lot of personalization. Things you’re not going to get in a big box store.”
Customer service and personalization is what sets The Good Sport apart, Rupp said.
“I think the big thing, along with customer service, is the extra effort we give. We provide very good service, very good quality, and we work hard to get it done in a timely manner for people,” he said.
As an example, Rupp talked with pride about staying late and coming in early during the week of Thanksgiving to ensure the shirts made in advance of that weekend’s Holcomb High School state championship game were ready in time.
“The philosophy I have is those people who put food on my family’s table, I’m going to do everything I can for them. When you have stuff you have to get done, you don’t clock out at 6 o’clock,” Rupp said.
When asked about being located in downtown Garden City, Rupp said it’s really the only thing he’s known but there are a lot of benefits to it. While downtown has changed tremendously over the years, Rupp said it is still a place people come to shop in because they want to come downtown.
For Rupp, it’s the relationships with customers that make it all worthwhile.
“We get new customers, but we have people that have been customers a lot of years and it’s kind of nice,” he said. “You have conversations with people, or you even see people outside of the business. It’s those relationships that you build. When you’re in a faster-paced setting, you probably don’t get to interact as much with your customers.”
Store hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. For the holidays, The Good Sport also will be open the next three Sundays: 1 to 6 p.m. Dec. 10, 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 17 and noon to 3 p.m. on Dec. 24. The store also plans to be open until 7 p.m. on Dec. 21, 22, and 23.
The Good Sport also has a Facebook page, and a website at www.thegoodsportfanshop.com.