Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods stays true to roots in new spot

Small Business Spotlight for The Memphis Daily News

Sept. 23, 2013

For Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods, cooler temperatures in the air mean one thing – hunting season.

With its new location at 964 June Road in East Memphis, owner Cliff Hunter and his team are ready to accommodate discerning outdoorsmen.

Founded in 1926, Tommy Bronson has been the go-to store for hunting, fishing and outdoor needs for 87 years. It opened at 47 N. Waldran primarily as a supplier of tennis equipment before moving to 1672 Union Ave. in 1971.

Hunter began working at the sporting goods store in 1989 and bought into the business in 1993, becoming the partner of Tommy’s son, Stewart Bronson. When the store moved east to Poplar Plaza in 1998, it was due in part by a push from Bronson.

Howard Schuster and the team at Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods has been serving the Mid-South’s outdoors community for 87 years. 

(Photo: Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“Our business was growing exponentially on Union,” Bronson said. “We defied retail law with three parking spaces and 1,500 square feet.”

In 2006, Hunter bought Bronson out, yet the two are still close friends with Hunter seeking business advice over the years.

“I’m not blood Bronson, but I might as well be,” Hunter said. “I still spend Christmas Eve with them and we’re very close.”

With Poplar Plaza came the promise of more parking and a true retail space, and served them well for 14 years. Hunter said the shopping center’s management company, Finard Properties, “were phenomenal landlords; it was tough to leave but it was time.”

When the business began, it was a neighborhood concern drawing on customers from nearby Central Gardens and the professional offices of Downtown.

But business and demographics in Memphis changed over the years and Tommy Bronson has morphed into more of a regional business with customers coming from Jackson, Dyersburg and Nashville, Tenn. A third of the store’s gun sales come from DeSoto County customers, so Hunter wanted to be closer to the interstate but still within the loop.

The new property was the longtime home of Arthur’s Wine & Liquor, which made the move to a nearby Poplar-facing storefront in 2004. Matt Prince, senior vice president of brokerage & development with Loeb Properties Inc. and a longtime customer and friend, felt the space was perfect for Hunter’s shop . . . (read more)