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Sports shops call IHSA plan for fall sports ‘devastating’

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First there was a blow to sales after the statewide COVID-19 shutdown order back in March, and now new restrictions to IHSA fall sports has left many local sports apparel stores uncertain.

"I mean this is the livelihood of our business, for the last five months I've done nothing but bring money back into this company, and now they've shut down the fall sports, and there's no opportunity," said Curt Reynolds, owner of Brunk's Sports Center in Washington.

Reynolds has run Brunk's for the last 15 years. His store supplies high school teams throughout Central Illinois, but team orders aren't the only business he will lose because of the decision. Fans have stopped shopping.

"People don't buy spirit wear, they don't buy uniforms, they don't buy hats, there's no reason for them to," added Reynolds.

Jeff Ulrich owns Screen Graphics in Pekin, he supplies dozens of local junior and senior high schools with their team gear. Boys' soccer and girls' volleyball are a big part of his fall revenue. Both those sports were delayed until the spring.

"We weren't surprised, but it's not something we were looking forward to...we know the kids want to participate, they want to get out there and play, but on the other side everyone wants to be safe, so it's kind of fifty-fifty, what do you do," said Ulrich.

One thing people can do, Reynolds says, during these times, don't just buy from the online giants.

"It would be nice for people to shop local, support the people who are bringing sales tax dollars back into your city," said Reynolds.

Andy Weber

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