96 Year-Old-Store Facing New Challenges

Stein has been working at Frank’s since 1950 and says he is thankful for his loyal customers; some which have been frequenting the store for decades.

Moe Stein shuffled through the front door of Frank’s Sports Shop wearing a light blue Frank’s button-down shirt and dark grey pants — the outfit he now spends most of his time in.

“I just came back from the cemetery. I was visiting my mother and father,” Stein said.
“When they died we buried them right away. They don’t do refunds,” he joked.

Frank’s Sports Shop has been on East Tremont in the Bronx selling sporting goods and apparel for 96 years. Moe began working at the store in high school alongside his father and founder of the store, Frank Stein himself, in 1950.

With his late father’s cane in hand, the 90-year-old slowly made his way from the door to the store’s main counter, passing racks of jerseys and shelves packed with neatly folded sweatpants no more than a couple of feet from each other.

Frank’s is stuffed with a rainbow of sporting gear and apparel that covers the store from floor to ceiling.

On this day, the counter was cluttered by orders from customers that hadn’t been shipped yet. Moe looked closely at one of the shipping labels that was bound for lower Manhattan and shouted across the store, asking to see where it was going. Frank’s does its best to keep a steady stream of orders going out the door to customers all around NYC and remain competitive in today’s dynamic and technological retail market.

More recently, however, Frank’s has faced a new obstacle: its own retailers and suppliers. Stein said that after 100 years, Frank’s has managed to outlast many of the local family-owned retail stores in the area, but now the store is competing against the manufacturers and retailers of the gear and clothing that Frank’s sells.

“It’s a very competitive world. You can look at one product or maybe another product, and you buy it cause it’s a nickel cheaper,” said Stein, “but business has all changed. Its changed drastically.”

Manufacturers are looking to push customers away from stores like Frank’s and back towards their own as they continue to open more storefronts in the area and expand their brand online. Because they manufacture and own the brand, they determine the minimum price that Frank’s is able to sell their product. They are also able to sell the same product themselves at a lower price than what they require a store like Frank’s to.

“Take Red Wing for example” said Stein, “they’ll require me to sell a shoe for $120, but then they will sell the same shoe for $110 or $100 in their own stores or online. It makes it hard to keep up.” A number of retail shoe stores have opened in the past 10 years on East Fordham Road in the Bronx, less than two miles from Frank’s.

Regardless, Frank’s has become a local landmark in the Bronx and Stein himself has become a staple of the community. Stein believes that although he may not be able to price all of his items as low as some of the retailers, his loyal customer base will continue to support the family owned store.

Stein stands behind the counter and speaks with an employee as they help a customer.

Moe takes pride in continuing the legacy his father left behind and serving customers who have been shopping at the store for decades.

“What are you looking for?” Moe said as he glanced and over to a couple who had just walked into the store.

“Oh nothing in-particular, we’re just looking,” one of them responded.

“Well if you’re just looking, the Museum is down the road,” Stein uttered back as he stuck his tongue out, right before letting out a soft chuckle.

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