Al & Bob's Sports, a sporting goods store located in Byron Township, is closing after more than 50 years in business.

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The store has been a community staple for decades, and it first opened on South Division more than five decades ago.

How Al & Bob's Sports Was Started

Al & Bob's Sports was founded by Al Zyle and Bob Smyth in 1959 after a fire at their former employer, Walter's Sports Shop, put them out of a job.

One of the original partners died before it ever opened its doors, and the other partner eventually sold it to Peter Cook’s son, Tom Cook.

Al & Bob's Moves To A New Location

In 2018, Tom Cook sold the business to Matthew Howell, who moved Al & Bob’s in with Millbrook, a Byron Township equestrian supply store located at 510 68th St. near US-131 that his mother first opened in 1989.

Why Is Al & Bob's Closing

Since taking over Al & Bob’s, Howell said he had a lot of fun talking to customers about hunting and fishing, but he has gotten to the point where he would like to have more time to play and do these activities instead of selling them.

Howell told Wood TV that there are also new challenges that come with running an independent sporting goods store in the age of the internet.

"When it comes to things like digital marketing, and platforms like Facebook won’t allow you to advertise firearms. I have to ask myself, do I want to try to push a rock up a mountain? Or would I rather spend my time doing what I want to do while I still can do it?”


When Will Al & Bob's Sports Close?

Al & Bob's Sports is expected to close between the end of the year and January of 2024.

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