It’s where your swimmer selected their first goggles and “racing” suit for the Belmont Aquatic Team. Your children’s hockey and figure skates are sharpened downstairs. The beginner’s lacrosse set, soccer cleats size children’s 4 and gloves and bats for minor league youth baseball players were all bought there.
If you’re from Belmont, you got them at Champions Sports Goods in Belmont Center.
And it’s not just a place to outfit your kids: where else can you obtain a “Belmont” cap and T-shirt, a box of baseballs, running shoes and a million other sporting goods? It’s where generations of high schoolers worked their first job, a place to pick up tickets for Belmont High theater productions and the store of the Lucky-size Sneaker Sale.
And who hasn’t used the store as the “official thru way” from the municipal parking lot to Leonard Street?
Champions is not just a sporting goods store but a community amenity; a service and benefit to residents that is becoming an anomaly in the world of retail.
And the face of Champions is Gerry Dickhaut. Easy going, affirmable and a little bit funny, Dickhaut is the business, opening the store in 1988 in his parent’s hometown. He patiently advises customers on the most appropriate equipment, knows where the most obscure items are located and will just stand by the cash register and talk with you about his love of golf – he shots in the 70s on a good day – until a customer comes in.
As president of the Belmont Center Business Association, he fosters events such as Belmont Town Day, Midnight Madness Sales and Belmont Turn on the Town and promotes locally-owned businesses because, as he is fond to point out, two-thirds of every dollar spent at an independent-owned store stays in the local community as opposed to a quarter for national chains.
Last week, Dickhaut lost his home to an electrical fire.
Dickhaut’s friends throughout Belmont have organized a benefit tonight, Monday, Nov.3 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Belmont’s favorite hangout, Conley’s Pub & Grille in Watertown at 164 Belmont St.
Gift card donations (Visa/Mastercard) are welcomed. Every donation will make a difference. In addition, a web donation site is being organized by Belmont Second Soccer.