By John Wolcott HBJ Freelance Writer
ARLINGTON — Action Sports has moved to larger space in downtown Arlington, an enterprising shift that has owner Rich Senff pleased with his increased business.
“We opened in the new store, a block south of where we were, Nov. 25 and we’ve already had the best January sales since 2003,” Senff said. “Also, the numbers are tracking to have the best February ever.”
Senff has grown the business repeatedly over the years.
A lifelong Arlington resident, he bought the business in 1984 when it was in a small shopping center a block away on West Avenue. He moved Action Sports to Olympic Avenue, downtown’s main street, and occupied a few storefronts over the years, including a building once occupied by his grandfather, Harry Senff, who ran what he called a “pool hall.”
Action Sports’ newest location is at 340 Olympic Ave., a corner location on Fourth Street with more visibility and much more space.
“It’s surprising to me, but when I moved here from a block north I increased my space from 1,800 square feet to 4,600 and didn’t need to even order more merchandise,” Senff said. “I filled it with what I already had, much of it I didn’t remember I had because it was so claustrophobic in that small space. If I felt that way, I know my customers did, too, but now there’s actually aisle space between things.”
After renovating the new space, adding new carpeting, painting the store and installing a new Snohomish County PUD energy-efficient lighting package, the store’s environment has changed. Senff believes his growing sales are a direct result of having a larger, more welcoming store environment after nine years in his old spot.
“Now I had room to build some larger displays, like the one with 280 baseball bats and baseball helmets that were even hard to reach before,” he said. “I never knew I had so much and my customers didn’t either.”
Action Sports focuses on a wide variety of sports clothing and equipment, including shoes, jerseys and T-shirts. Senff even provides fast labeling of clothing with team or personal names at the time of purchase, using a heat-press application.
The new store has four fitting rooms, more display racks, better lighting and atmosphere, plus a still-warm feeling from all the help he received during his move.
“Like a lot of small towns, Arlington is neighborly,” he said. “We got a lot of help with the move and customers were great, too. During the transition, people would find something in the new store they wanted and walk a block back to the old store to pay for it because the new registers weren’t set up yet.”
Senff is a 1981 graduate of Arlington High School, where he played on the school’s 1979 state champion football team. He was also the school’s 1981 State AA wrestling champion. He and his wife, Karen, live only a few blocks from the store with their two children, Nathan and Natalie.
When Senff moved to his new location, he got a lot of assistance from Arlington High School’s wrestling team, both current and former members, and many parents.
“I was going to move that afternoon but when those volunteers called me at 8 a.m. and said they were ready to help, I didn’t hesitate,” Senff said. “It’s great seeing the support you get in a small community like this where people work together to help each other out.”