Attention sports fans all across Acadiana! If you want licensed sports apparel and other products to show off your team spirit, then you definitely want to make a trip to Hub City Sports. Lafayette local and sports lover Jared Gray owns and operates this store, and it is a true sports fan’s paradise. What started as a simple “side hustle” has turned into a thriving local business.
How did Hub City Sports begin?
“Before I got into retail, I was a teacher. I started selling items online about seven years ago, around 2011 as a way to make a little extra income, and it just grow over the course of several years. I wasn’t super aggressive about growing the business, but every time I sold something, I would use the profits to buy more inventory. For about two years, I didn’t take any money – this was more of a hobby. Then it grew to the point where I thought, okay, I need to get this out of my house. I had almost 3000 SKUs (inventory) in a 150 square foot bedroom. I thought, if I was moving out of the house I might as well have a retail space. So I made that move about a year and a half ago.”
How was the transition from side hobby to full-time store?
“It’s been good. I’m still working just as hard as I did as a teacher, but I have more flexibility in my life now which I like, especially since I have a family. If something happens, I can go in late and don’t have to take a sick day. Also, building your own business is very rewarding. Teaching was rewarding for me as well, but there are so many things out of your control that contribute to how effective of a teacher you can be.”
Why sports merchandise?
“I’ve always been a huge sports fan. Growing up I played sports and collected baseball cards. Before I opened Hub City Sports, anyone who knew me knows I have a lot of different hats and shirts of teams that I like. I’ve always loved sports paraphernalia. Before I started selling online, a few of my friends had their own businesses and it sparked me to think, what can I sell or really get into? Eventually I decided to start with sports apparel and merchandise. I found a few people who would sell wholesale to me, and I kept going from there.”
Do you have a favorite sports team?
“I grew up in Wisconsin, so I’m a huge Green Bay Packers fan. Also, I went to University of Louisiana at Lafayette so I’m a Ragin’ Cajuns fan. We have season tickets for the Ragin’ Cajuns’ football and baseball, so I support our local college teams. And, I’ve lived all over the country so there are several random teams around the country that I still follow.”
What have been some of your favorite moments running Hub City Sports?
“The first grand opening felt really good. We threw a big party and a bunch of friends came out. It was a celebration of what I had been building toward over the course of several years. Another key moment was the first time I got business cards with the physical location of the business. It was a moment where I thought, okay, here it is and I’m established now. It was a cool moment for me.”
What do you love about being a local business in Acadiana?
“In this area, you find that local people are eager to shop with you. A lot of people really do understand that it’s better for the community to shop local, and that it sinks more dollars into Lafayette. Even personally I’m at the point where when I buy my coffee, I don’t go to the big boys anymore. I go to a local business because I know that money has more of a chance to come back and help our local community.”
Is there anything else people should know about your store?
“Everyone who walks into my store looks around and thinks, oh this is a neat store. I think part of the secret sauce is that I’m a true fan. That doesn’t necessarily happen at the bigger stores. Those stores probably are fans, but probably not to the extent that I am. I mean, as far as being invested in the product, I have to literally put my money on the line to buy something and put it in the store. Every time I get new products in, it’s like a present for me – even if it’s a team I don’t like. I’ll get a Viking shirt and think, oh this is a cool shirt. I kind of geek out on that stuff.”
You can find Hub City Sports on the Towny app. When you download Towny, you boost the Acadiana economy, support your neighbors, AND get rewarded for doing so. Why not download the app today and choose local when you can?!