Soccer Players' Hobby Scores in Business World

By Anderson, Paul M. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 13, 1997 | Go to article overview

Soccer Players' Hobby Scores in Business World


Anderson, Paul M., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Paul M. Anderson Daily Herald Correspondent

When Brad Hauter and his brother Stephen opened a soccer equipment store in Schaumburg a decade ago, they figured it would keep them busy when they retired from the sport.

Little did they know the store's business would eventually grow so quickly they'd scarcely have time to play soccer anymore.

"I wanted to play professional soccer. My goal here was to have something in place when I retired," Brad Hauter said.

That something was Soccer Express, 347 W. Golf Road., which the Hauters bill as "the largest soccer store in the world."

The brothers opened Soccer Express as a 1,000-square-foot store in 1988 and eventually moved in August 1996 to a new location that's 9,300 square feet.

Last week, the brothers celebrated the relocation of their Crystal Lake store to 6292 Northwest Highway. They opened in Crystal Lake with a 2,500-square-foot business in 1991. The new store is 6,500 square feet.

"Your average soccer enthusiast is going to drive farther to see us because we have everything," Brad said. "And we can undersell the catalogs and competition. Because we're buying at such a big volume, we can pass the savings on to our customers."

Brad studied psychology at DePauw University in Indiana while Stephen majored in sociology. So where did they acquire the business acumen to open "the planet's first soccer super store?"

The two chalk up their success to their experience as professional soccer players and the growing enthusiasm for the sport in the Northwest suburbs.

"All of our employees here are soccer players, so you get good feedback on all of our products. Because we all play the game, we understand the strategy and know what it takes to be a good player," Brad said.

Many parents often bring their children in to Soccer Express after they've bought their equipment at another general sporting goods store.

"We get a lot of parents who come in with shoes or equipment that doesn't fit quite right," Brad said. "We're constantly fixing problems from other stores that don't deal specifically with soccer."

Even though the brothers grew up in the south suburbs, they chose to open their store in Schaumburg because soccer was taking off in the Northwest suburbs. …

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