Sure, you can buy all of your sporting equipment online, but nothing compares to walking through a sporting goods store and trying everything out. You have to feel the bat in your hands and the cleats on your feet before you can just buy! Michigan is home to some first-rate sporting goods stores selling all the gear and big-name brands you’ll need. Here are the 8 best.
With locations in Clare and Gaylord, Jay's Sporting Goods—otherwise known as Michigan's Original Outdoor Superstore—has been operating since back in 1971. With almost 50 years of experience under its collective belt these are the guys who know what's going on, and what the shopper needs for the perfect experience. Expertise is great, but Jay's drives the point home with in-store events like seminars and even a podcast to demonstrate all that value.
Saginaw is home to Bare's Sports Shop, a sporting goods shop that focuses on year-round operations. Where some sports shops might be seasonal, going after only a certain section of demand, Bare's goes after all year operations, taking advantage of the different sports that come up in different parts of the year, or just those preparing for other seasons. With an indoor archery range on hand for trying out some of the material, Bare's will provide great options for the year-round sports fan.
Schupbach's Sporting Goods in Jackson focuses mainly on the hunter, but given how many hunters there are in Michigan, this is scarcely bad news. Offering not only its services as a Federal Firearms Licensee—which means access to Gunbroker listings—but also custom firearms, archery supplies, apparel and more, Schupbach's will help outfit the hunter for most any variety of game Michigan has to offer.
Greenville is home to Magnum Sports, itself a facility largely devoted to the three biggest sports in Michigan: hunting, fishing and target shooting. With 20,000 square-feet to its credit and both a 12-lane pistol/rifle range and a 40-yard indoor archery range on hand, you'll find plenty of room to try out potential purchases or practice with the older stuff. Throw in a complete 3D virtual hunting simulator known as the Dart Simulator—there are even leagues for this—and Magnum Sports will deliver a high-powered experience.
Head up to Allendale to check out Grand Valley Sporting Goods, a sporting goods shop that offers plenty for the outdoor enthusiast. Featuring an array of leagues as well as classes, Grand Valley Sporting Goods shoppers can check out kayak demonstration days as well as an array of bows, crossbows, archery supplies and even full kayaks ready to go.
Northwoods Sporting Goods in Hancock has the kind of presence you'd expect for a Michigan sporting goods store, in that it's very hunting-focused with plenty of firearms and accompanying ammunition. However, Northwoods also delivers on several other fronts, offering snowshoe bindings, snowshoes, and plenty of fishing supplies as well. That covers a big chunk of Michigan outdoor sports, and gives its shoppers plenty to choose from.
Switchback Gear Exchange, formerly of Marquette and now of Grand Rapids, was a big deal in its original location, offering access to bicycles, camping gear, disc golf and similar products. Now that it's moved, it's looking to carry on its proud tradition. “Backpacker” magazine once voted it the third best used gear store in the United States, and between the variety and the impressive savings generated by used gear, the end result is a good one for shoppers.
Backcountry North in Traverse City offers a terrific array of sporting goods, heavy on the camping and kayaking/canoeing market. Better yet, it also offers a slate of in-store events that help provide insight and education on the overall market, including a recently release party for the Vasque Breeze III and an upcoming event discussing wild edibles in Michigan. So whether you want outdoor material or outdoor education, Backcountry North is a sound place to find either.