This is Small Business Weekly, a recurring feature in which we’ll spotlight a small, independently owned business in Bethesda or Chevy Chase. Got a business you think we should check out? Drop us a line at desk[at]bethesdanow[dot]com.
In lacrosse-crazy Bethesda, a locally owned sports retailer with a focus on the game can do more than survive.
Todd Bradley has been running Sports Extra (7817 Old Georgetown Rd.) since 2007 and took over ownership in 2012 with his wife, Heather. In a market dominated by big chains such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Modell’s Sporting Goods and Sports Authority, the Woodmont Triangle business has found a viable niche.
“Lots of people come in here and they ask how we’re in business. It’s a fair question, but really we have more business than we can handle sometimes,” said Bradley, known as t-shirt Todd.
The store does it by providing youth sports teams with the full service treatment, including custom equipment orders and in-shop uniform design, printing and embroidery. The store’s walls are full of shirts and other items emblazoned with logos of local high schools.
Bradley is a Rockville native who went to Gonzaga College High School in D.C. and worked at the store under original owner and youth football coach Paul Saah. Local sports are key to his business, which also does shirt printing and embroidery for a number of Woodmont Triangle restaurants.
Lacrosse equipment is the store’s main driver, and in an area home to prestigious high school programs, summer club teams and even winter indoor squads, that’s an excellent fit.
“We do lacrosse year-round and it’s really become a business we can rely on year-round,” Bradley said. “It wouldn’t succeed everywhere. But in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Northwest D.C. area, there is a lot of lacrosse being played.”
As for running a small retail business in Woodmont Triangle, where restaurants rule and some have left for seemingly greener pastures, Bradley said it’s about carving out a place doing something the big companies don’t.
“You gotta find your niche,” Bradley said. “We know what we’re doing here. At some of the bigger box stores, it’s just people looking for a job. We have people working here from the lacrosse world. They’re familiar with the sport and they’re familiar with the team side and that’s the big part.”