FYE Sports Store drops out of rat race

FYE Sports Store closes its doors after two years of providing specialty gear for runners and cyclists in Exeter and surrounding areas

EXETER – FYE Sports in downtown Exeter will be closing after two years in business. The store plans to liquidate all stock through September before it is put up for sale.

FYE Sports Store has begun liquidating its inventory in anticipation of selling the store. According to their blog, they are selling the store in order to “get back to their roots.” Before the store, FYE hosted community runs and races. They made the decision to close the store in order to focus all their energy on hosting those events.

“It’s a great store that has tons of potential,” owner Mike Young said. “We just have a lot on our plates. It’s a family business and all three of us have other jobs.”

FYE stands for Forever Young Events and the organization wants to focus once again on bringing the community together through races and fitness expos. The organization first started in 2016 with the End of the Trail half marathon, which is the largest 10k in Visalia. They also host the Healthy Living Expo in Visalia and the Sasquatch Trail Run in Woodlake.

They hope to clear out the inventory in six to seven weeks in order to list the location on the market. All in store items are marked at least 30% off but some items will be more than 50% off the retail price.

Young runs the business with his wife and brother. With the economic downturn in 2022 and all three owners having other jobs, they haven’t had the necessary time to dedicate to running FYE Sports since letting many of their employees go.

FYE Sports started small in May 2020, operating out of Young’s insurance office. They expanded to a full storefront later that year in November. Their intention was to fill a gap in the market for specialty running equipment as people turned to outdoor fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The shop is comparable to Sole 2 Soul Sports in Visalia for running shoes, but also sells outdoor recreation equipment and cycling apparel.

Before becoming a retail store, running clubs would meet at the old location, go on their runs and then return for donuts and coffee. Avid runners knew it was the place for specialty shoes. Running clubs continued to meet at the new location and participants in races hosted by FYE picked up their packets there. 

“We’re still going to do the events, we just won’t have a packet pickup location at the store anymore,” Young said.

The store carries specialty running shoes that are not available at chain stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods in Visalia. Unfortunately, the most in-demand brand FYE Sports couldn’t seem to nail down is Hoka, a brand that makes specialty distance and trail running shoes.

“As a running shoe store it killed us,” Young said. “We send people from Exeter or Porterville that come here looking for a specific shoe to Sole 2 Soul all the time.”

FYE Sports did find that cycling apparel sold well, especially OOFOS recovery sandals, which are worn to help an athlete’s feet recover after cycling. FYE Sports sells more OOFOS sandals than the REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) in Fresno.

Young hopes to start a cycling event out of Exeter and move the business in the direction of cycling while still maintaining its dedication to runners. The brand has also experimented with hosting backpacking trips, including one in February 2022 that hosted 25 backpackers. They have also hosted a river rafting trip and hope to continue to move into outdoor recreation events.

FYE’s next event is the Scarecrow Run on Oct. 8 in Exeter. The event is either a 2 mile run or a 5k run and either event can be completed virtually.

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