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Family-Owned LES Sporting Goods Store to Close After 77 Years

By Lisha Arino | November 14, 2014 8:24am
 G&S Sporting Goods at 43 Essex St. will close the first week of December after 77 years in business.
G&S Sporting Goods to Close in December
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LOWER EAST SIDE — This boxing store is in its final round.

G&S Sporting Goods, located at 43 Essex St., will close next month, 77 years after the current owner's father first opened the doors. The shop specializes in boxing gear like gloves and trunks and also sells all kinds of sports uniforms and equipment.

The last year has been a challenging one for the shop, which was forced to run on limited hours after owner Lenny Zerling, 67, suffered a stroke last fall.

While the family managed to keep the store afloat, Zerling — who went back to working full-time about four months ago — said he is ready to move on and focus on his recovery.

“I know a lot of people here but it’s time for me to go. I just want to relax,” he said.

Zerling did not give an exact closing date, but said the family planned to shut the doors in the first week of December. Customers will still be able to purchase sports uniforms and the company’s boxing gear through its website and on Amazon, however.

Zerling began running the store about 20 years ago, according to his sister, Audrey, 57, who also works at the shop. Their father started the business in 1937, originally opening in the storefront next door, she said. At first, he only sold the boxing gear her father designed himself, she said.

“My father designed everything then because he was a fighter,” Audrey said, adding that her mother sewed the pieces in the back of the store. “They sewed the trunks, the gloves… they did everything here.”

Today, G&S continues to produce its own line but has outsourced the work, she said. The store also sells other sports equipment like tennis racquets, baseball gloves and team uniforms — often 10 to 20 percent lower than list price — but boxing gear remains its focus, she said.

Zerling mostly ran the store himself until his stroke last year, said Audrey, who quit her teaching job to help him manage the business around that time.

The store was only open a few hours a week for about four or five months while Zerling recuperated and went to rehab, said his wife, Kathy, who keeps him company and helps him at the shop.

As he got better, he spent more and more time at the shop, but he still has difficulty communicating, she said.

To prepare for the closing, most of the merchandise has been discounted another 20 to 50 percent, Audrey said, except for the boxing equipment.

G&S will also cut back on its hours, she said. Instead of opening from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Friday, the store will only be open in the afternoon, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., she said.

Although the store has been a big part of their lives, the siblings said they were looking forward to retirement.

Zerling, who lives in an apartment above the store with his wife, said they plan to move to Delaware. Audrey said she plans to stay in the neighborhood and possibly travel or take up a new hobby.

“We’re ready but it’s going to be bittersweet when we roll the gates down for the last time,” she said, adding that they have enjoyed being part of the community for so long.

“It’s going to be emotional, I’m sure.”