Make us your home page
Instagram

Former star athlete, wife offer a personal touch at their Brooksville sporting goods store

BROOKSVILLE — Long before the advent of sporting goods chain stores and big box outlets, Hernando County athletes shopped at Kelly's World of Sports in Brooksville.

"I remember going there as a kid," Eddie Looper, 49, recalled recently.

Owner Paul Kelly befriended Looper as the local baseball player advanced through stardom at Hernando High School, Seminole Community College and the University of Alabama.

"He used to come to see me play," Looper said from his office desk at Looper Sports Connection, on the southwest side of Brooksville.

Eleven years ago, after leaving the St. Louis Cardinals baseball organization as a utility player and bullpen coach, Looper bought his friend's business, which he operates with his wife, Jennifer.

The retail showroom teems with gear and apparel for baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf and weightlifting — "every sport that's out there," Eddie Looper said — for the team player or the casual enthusiast.

"We can furnish equipment, the hard goods, uniforms, hats, shoulder pads, water bottles, goal posts, sideline markers, chain sets, you name it — everything except the actual grass," he said.

Soft goods personalized on-site help set the store apart from its bigger competitors.

Jennifer Looper, 40, oversees the workrooms, where screen printing equipment and an oversized commercial embroidery machine apply team, school or business logos, and names to shirts of all descriptions, jackets and shorts. Even pillows are embroidered with a fan's favorite team name.

"Just about every color imaginable," from pastel to luminescent, is available among inks for screen printing," Eddie said. Hues of rayon embroidery threads run to the "hundreds."

Whether it's someone in a local youth league, in an elementary or middle school physical education class, or wearing high school or college gear — even police and fire departments — "If you see a T-shirt with screen printing or a polo shirt with an embroidered name, that's probably ours," he said.

"Right now we're bombarded with orders, several thousand," he said, noting that schools have just opened for the 2014-15 year. Nonetheless, there's hardly a slow time at the business because various sports have different seasons.

"The biggest challenge is just getting product in here to meet everyone's time frame," Looper said. "We do everything we have to do to meet the needs, even at crunch time — and those are many times. There's always something they forget till the last minute."

Looper has the background to anticipate those needs. At Hernando High, he played basketball and football in addition to baseball.

His office walls attest to his personal sports connections. Hanging there are a plaque recognizing his induction into the Hernando High Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, his Alabama baseball jersey, No. 16, and the professional uniform he wore from 1986 to 1992, No. 79 for the Cardinals.

The store attests to some business savvy, too.

"When you have good products and good service," Looper said, gesturing across the showroom, ". . .eleven years later, and we're still here."

Contact Beth Gray at graybethn@earthlink.net.

.fast facts

Looper Sports Connection

What: Sporting gear and apparel; optional screen printing and embroidery

Where: 7631 Horse Lake Road, Horse Lake Plaza, Brooksville

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Phone: (352) 796-7974

Web: loopersports.com

Former star athlete, wife offer a personal touch at their Brooksville sporting goods store 08/27/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 6:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Judge throws out $458,000 condo sale, says Clearwater attorney tricked bidders

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold on Monday threw out the $458,100 sale of a gulf-front condo because of what he called an "unscrupulous" and "conniving" scheme to trick bidders at a foreclosure auction.

    John Houde, left, whose Orlando copany was the high  bidder June 8 at the foreclosure auction of a Redington Beach condo, looks in the direction of Clearwater lawyer and real estate investor Roy C. Skelton, foreground,  during a hearing Monday before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Jack St. Arnold.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times ]
  2. Pasco EDC names business incubator head in Dade City, will open second site

    Business

    Pasco County economic development officials are busy reigniting their business start-up resources following the departure earlier this year of Krista Covey, who ran the Pasco Economic Development Council's SMARTStart business incubator in Dade City.

    Andrew Romaner was promoted this summer to serve as program director of the Dade City SMARTStart Entrepreneur Center, a start-up incubator service of the Pasco Economic Development Council. He succeeds Krista Covey, who relocated to Texas for another startup position. [Courtesy of Pasco EDC]
  3. Proposed Tampa tax increase prompts second thoughts about Riverfront Park spending

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park has a $35.5 million price tag with something for everyone, including a rowers' boathouse, a sheltered cove for beginning paddlers, an event lawn, a community center with sweeping views of downtown and all kinds of athletic courts — even pickleball! — when it opens …

    Expect the $35.5 million redevelopment of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park to be a big part of the discussion when the Tampa City Council discusses Mayor Bob Buckhorn's proposed budget and property tax increase this Thursday. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Superior Uniform acquires Los Angeles-based PublicIdentity

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — A subsidiary of Seminole-based Superior Uniform Group has acquired Los Angeles-based branded merchandise company PublicIdentity Inc.

    Superior Uniform Group CEO Michael Benstock
[Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]