Local staple to close after 13 years

Published 4:04 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2011

After 13 years in business, Omni Sports announced this week it will close its doors for good next month.

Owned and operated by longtime Demopolis residents Bill and Catherine Meador, the store’s final day in business is slated to be Aug. 13.

“It’s really a combination of a lot of things,” Bill, who is also a Demopolis City Councilman, said of the reasoning behind the store’s closure. “Obviously the economy has dictated some. It has been internet sales. It has been the economy. It has been changes with schools.”

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Omni opened with a focus upon filling a need in the Black Belt region.

Soon after, it became a locally-run, hometown sporting goods store that catered to the needs high schools, youth league teams and individuals from Livingston to Linden, Marion to Moundville, Demopolis to Sweet Water and all points in between.

The store’s success in its formative years was based largely upon the Meadors’ ability to rely upon sales calls and face-to-face interaction as part of a grass roots business scheme.

However, recent years have seen rising gas prices lead to increasing transportation and shipping costs. The advent of personal relationships between high school athletic departments and direct providers have cut significantly into portions of the business while other factors have chipped away at less obvious aspects of it.

“It’s way down, the walk-in traffic,” Bill said.

“It’s not sour grapes at all. We’ve run our course.”

The closure of Omni will represent a number of things to the Demopolis community. While it has been a locally-operated sporting goods store known for carrying items even when they are out of season, the the store has been the registration station for local youth sports leagues for the last several years.

“I think we’ve been able to give them good customer service,” Catherine said of Omni’s relationship with the community over the years.

“When we looked at when to close, we wanted the time that was least intrusive for everybody.”

It is that attitude that has allowed the store to find success during its 13-year tenure, simultaneously helping it to become of hub for sports-related information in the city.

“We haven’t made a ton of money here, but we’ve enjoyed the interaction,” Bill said. “We will miss it tremendously.”