Downtown GR storefront marking 85+ years in business, prepares for major renovation

Posted at 9:58 PM, Jan 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-25 22:31:14-05
Exterior rendering of renovated Reynolds & Sons by Pioneer Construction.

Exterior rendering of renovated Reynolds & Sons by Pioneer Construction.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- In a city that has seen its fair share of changes in recent decades, one of the few constants has been a family-owned sporting goods store that's been operating for nearly 90 years.

Reynolds & Sons Sporting Goods, 12 Monroe Center NW, has operated out of its same location since the late 1920s. Back then it was known as Goebel and Brown before becoming Reynolds and Brown in the 1960s. The Reynolds family would buy the store outright in 1982.

Jeff Reynolds has weathered many of the storms downtown, from the failure of the Monroe Center pedestrian mall to crime to vacant neighboring buildings. Now, Reynolds solely owns the store his father first bought a share of back in 1961.

“Definitely, downtown has gone through its up and downs," Reynolds said. "I think the direction they’re going right now, it’s jumped to a different level.”

“My dad, he worked here for Goebel and Brown when he went through college," he said. "He went from Goebel and Brown to Reynolds and Brown, Reynolds and Sons. He’s been through all of them.”

Reynolds said the secret to the store's longevity is simple: it's about being comfortable with reinvention.

“Trying to stay ahead of the curve basically," he said.

“You have to change with the times. You have to go in a different direction when need be, and sometimes you’re ahead of it, sometimes you’re a little behind it, but you get it done.”

Case in point, the current store has come a long way from the days when it only sold sporting goods such as jerseys and equipment. For a time, in order to compete with the rise of big box retailers, the store moved away from general sporting goods and toward more niche products for activities like fishing and hunting.

In an effort to attract a new generation of customers working and living downtown, Reynolds now sells urban clothing, with brands like Nike and Jordan dominating the inventory.

The store also sells team sport equipment for Rocket football and little league programs.

The next reinvention, a full revamp of the store both inside and out, is slated to begin this spring. The aim is to make the store look and feel more modern. Reynolds said while the appearance of the store will change, the core products and offerings will not.

“We will not deviate from what we’re doing with Jordan releases and the other product lines we’ve been carrying," he said.

The store will remain open during the construction.