Landmark Store Has Diverse History

“Skidmore’s Sports & Styles” reads the sign above the small mom-and-pop-style store on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays.

Upon first glance, this unassuming old-fashioned store evokes the feel and charm of the Historic Main Street. But this iconic Hampton Bays shop isn’t just part of the backdrop. It’s a living narration of the hamlet’s history.

When walking into the sports shop, you are instantly taken back by the immense quantity of sporting goods displayed strategically throughout the space. After weaving through the merchandise, you find the counter, where you notice the owner—sometimes the lone worker—greeting customers, hanging items on the wall or answering phones.

George Skidmore has been in business at this location since 1972, when he took the store over from his father. But the Skidmore store’s history doesn’t begin there.

The exact dates are a little fuzzy, but the Skidmore family has been in business in Good Ground for over 140 years.

“Well, four generations of us have been in business here from the 1870s and up,” says Skidmore. “My great-great-grandfather and my great-grandfather used to have a blacksmith shop at this very spot.”

Back in those days, the Skidmore family was hard at work forging, setting and welding metal as well as shoeing horses. It was around this time that the blacksmith shop was moved closer to the center of Good Ground, which was formally renamed Hampton Bays in 1922, to the current site of Skidmore’s Sports.

The shop burned down in 1909, but it was immediately rebuilt by the family. They decided to put the shop closer to the street so they could service automobiles. That old service station was called the “Blue Front Garage,” but the name was later changed to “Skidmore’s Cash Garage.”

“My father then transformed the area into an automobile shop,” says Skidmore. “He loved fixing and working on cars, like I love what I do.”

And when it was George’s time to take over the space, he decided to give the community a sporting goods store.

This change came as no surprise to the locals, who knew Skidmore had a passion for sports and for servicing the local sports scene. Right after graduating high school, Skidmore was asked by the school’s coach to assist him in coaching youth baseball teams that summer. Ten years later, Skidmore helped establish an official Little League, the first of its kind in the town.

When asked why he decided to change it into a sports store, Skidmore succinctly replies with a chuckle, “I thought it’d be more fun. It seemed to me like the only way I would just enjoy myself better.”

Hampton Bays is still a baseball town—no surprise, it’s Skidmore’s favorite sport—and baseball gets the most real estate in his store.

Though Skidmore’s Sports & Styles has adapted to modern times and features popular brands like Adidas, Teva and Reef as well as an eclectic offering of shoes, children’s clothing, swimwear, athletic gear and accessories, it still holds true to its storied roots.

Skidmore has been in business in Hampton Bays for over 40 years, but he still enjoys seeing the expression on new faces the first time they open the door and enter his store.

“Gee…this is the first time we’ve been in here—I never thought you’d have so much stuff,” says Skidmore, mimicking what many say when they come in.

“The outside of the store makes the store seem smaller than it really is,” adds Skidmore. “But I like the way it looks outside, even if it looks small…that’s why you have to come in.”

Although there’s more competition nowadays than there was when Skidmore first came to the business, it’s nothing his down-to-earth and welcoming personality couldn’t overcome. Locals know that no two things in Hampton Bays go better together than little league baseball and Skidmore’s
Sports & Style.

 

Fore more information, check out Skidmore’s Sports & Styles, 9E Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays,
631-728-0066.

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