So tell me Dick’s creation story.
The company was started by my
father in 1948 as a small bait-and-tackle shop, when he was 18 years
old. He had been working in the army
surplus business, and a guy he was
working with asked him what he
would need to get into the tackle business, because surplus was starting to
dry up. My father was an avid fisherman and put an order together for
him. The guy took the order out of my
father’s hand, crossed out half of it, and
told him he was a dumb kid and didn’t
know what the heck he was doing.
My father walked out, went over
to his grandparents’ house, and talked
with his grandmother about it. This
was a family that still hadn’t recovered
from the Depression. They had noth-
ing. She asked him, “How much would
it cost to open this business yourself?”
He said $300. He was shocked when
she dug $300 out of an old cookie jar
and said, “Go start this yourself.”
But that first tackle shop failed.
He never got over that. He started
the business again shortly afterward
and did OK. Never really great. We
were always in debt. We were always
a season away from going out of
And you grew up in the store?
I started working there when I was a
kid, 13 years old. As my father would
say, he was going to teach me respon-
sibility. I hated every minute of it. I
wanted nothing to do with that busi-
ness. I had to work there through
college, but had no interest in coming
back after that. But he had to have a
double-bypass operation in ’ 75. Back
then, that was a pretty serious proce-
dure. I came back into the business,
never thinking I was going to stay.
Did your siblings work with you
there? What would you recommend to other family businesses?
All of us kids worked in the store.
It was just a small family business,
and that’s kind of what you did. But
I would encourage entrepreneurs
and people running a business not
to force it down their kids’ throats.
I actually told my kids that they
could not come into the business
right out of college. They had to go
do something else.
Your father grew cautious for
obvious reasons. How did you get
beyond his fear of risk?
I saw that there was an opportunity
to do more. When I was younger,
I didn’t understand why he was so
risk-averse. Now I think it’s just that
fathers and sons, one generation
to the next, have di;erent agendas.
You kind of go for broke when
you’re young. I wanted to grow the
THE KING OF SPORTS
Dick’s Sporting Goods operates
more than 700 stores, making it the
nation’s leading sporting goods
chain. The company also runs the
Field & Stream and Golf Galaxy
specialty stores, like the one below
inside a Dick’s in Friendswood, Texas.