Sharon Fenn puts Sportseller up for sale
After 19 years running The Sportseller in the Washington Mall, Sharon Fenn is calling it a day.
The longtime entrepreneur has put the sports equipment, apparel and sneaker store up for sale.
“I am 60,” Ms Fenn said. “I am healthy and happy, and it is a good time to move on to the next stage of my life.”
She has had several parties interested in the business, but nothing concrete yet.
“There is no telling how long these things will take,” she said. “In the meantime, I am happy to be there.”
Runners Jim and Debbie Butterfield first opened the Sportseller in the Old Cellar Lane on Front Street back in 1979.
A decade later they sold it to Sutherland Madeiros, one of the founders of the Bermuda Triathlon Association. Ms Fenn joined the staff in 1993 and became a manager and buyer.
“Over the years I took on more and more responsibility for buying merchandise and running the store,” she said.
After buying the business in 2004, she worked hard to build up relationships with customers, and increase the Sportseller’s sales presence.
“The pandemic gave me some time to think about how we were going to progress with the business and survive the pandemic as it rolled out,” Ms Fenn said.
They turned up their social media presence, and utilised their customer e-mail database to market the store during the global health crisis.
Ms Fenn decided against creating a website to sell her products.
“We do not sell on the web,” she said. “I have been very particular about that. The service we supply to our customers is very personal. It cannot be duplicated on a webpage.”
And she said, as a small business, it can be difficult to maintain a website when you do not have the staff or know-how to do it.
“Our customers were amazing,” she said. “They contacted us when they needed anything.”
Through the long days of social distancing, the Sportseller did virtual shoe fittings through online apps such as WhatsApp, and also offered kerbside pick-up.
Today, Ms Fenn does not regret her decision to forgo a website.
“I did not have to compromise my thinking and my way of doing business,” she said.
She said the pandemic was heartbreaking for many people, but it felt great to be doing their part to help people feel happier and stay fit.
“We were eager to get back to work in person,” she said. “We did not look at people’s faces for 18 months, so it was great to get back to semi-normal.”
But she said since the pandemic began they have battled supply chain issues. She said many people in Bermuda had never thought much about where their food or goods came from, until Covid-19.
She is proud that she and her staff were able to keep the business running through such a difficult time.
“We were lucky in what we sold,” she said. “We did not experience anything catastrophic.”
But now, she is ready to move on.
When the store sells she will miss it “incredibly”, but she has plans.
“Travelling is at the top off my list,” she said. “My husband and I will spend longer times away from Bermuda and just enjoy our lives.”
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