Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Try before You Buy Is Newest Sporting Deal

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Try before You Buy Is Newest Sporting Deal

Article excerpt

You know we're finally getting somewhere when a new sporting goods store lets you buy badminton birdies and pull your groin muscle in one easy, convenient stop.

We're talking about Oshman's SuperSports at Northwest Plaza, a jock shop and playground that represents the state of the art in the berserk sports-equipment-and-apparel industry.

In St. Louis, there are many wonderfully large and gimmicky sporting goods stores begging for your business. But this place is different.

It begs you to get physical. You can play basketball on a wood half-court. Or take some cuts against a pitching machine in the batting cage. Or smack the heavy bag in the miniature boxing ring.

Or play a game of racquetball on their glass-enclosed court. Or rip a few tee shots in the simulator cage. Or finesse a few 20-footers home on the putting green.

(Just a thought: If Greg Norman dropped by and buried a clutch putt from the edge of the green, would he get one-upped by a stranger dramatically chipping in from tennis wear?)

The Houston-based Oshman's chain began building these activity-filled stores in 1990; the Northwest Plaza location is the ninth to be built and the fifth-largest, at 65,000-square feet.

In the hockey arena, a trio of kids hacked at the puck and spilled one another with hip checks. "It's working pretty well," employee Michael Smith said. "It has a silicone-based finish. It's actually a little slicker than ice. We let them try their skates on.

"But we don't want them playing any games."

Back when I was a kid - in those halcyon days when "My Mother The Car" flopped but Peter Tork became an icon - we bought our gloves and hardballs down at the hardware store. We walked past the hand tools, took a right at the fertilizer and found the bat rack in the corner.

The trouble was, the store only stocked Tom Tresh bats . . . and if you took a big practice cut, you might dislodge the fillings of nosy Mrs. Hammerfish from housewares.

Patrons were definitely discouraged from testing out the equipment in the aisles. So skinny kids (like me) who swung like Ray Oyler got stuck with lumber Eddie Mathews could have used. …

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