COLORADO SPRINGS — After more than 20 years in business, Stephen Martin, owner of Prime Time Sports, says he can no longer afford his monthly lease at Chapel Hills Mall.
On Monday, staff hung 40% off posters throughout the store.
“That’s definitely what brought us in for sure,” said Melissa Hansen, who came out to buy a Broncos hat.
But customers soon learned that the discount came at a price, learning that Prime Time would go bankrupt.
“I just can’t keep the doors open anymore,” Martin said, telling News5 he made the decision to close permanently on Sunday night.
It’s not the first time Martin has slashed prices like this – opting to get rid of all Nike apparel last fall, following the company’s advertising campaign with Colin Kapernick.
“Being a sports store without Nike is a bit like being a milk store without milk or a gas station without gas. How do you do that? They have a monopoly on jerseys,” Martin said.
Martin says it’s the only licensed, full-service fan store between Castle Rock and the New Mexico border. Although he has all 32 NFL team apparel in his store, he does not have any current player jerseys, due to his decision to drop all Nike apparel.
He also canceled an autograph session with Brandon Marshall at his store in 2016, to protest Marshall’s decision to kneel during the anthem.
“As much as I hate to admit it, there may be more supporters of Brandon Marshall and Colin Kaepernick than I thought,” Martin said.
He says online sales have also been a big factor in the 15% drop in sales he’s seen over the past three years.
But loyal customers like Dave Huddie still prefer to shop locally and in person.
“I’ve spent probably $1,000 at this place over the years,” Huddie told staff Monday, shortly after learning the store was closing.
Huddie has bought a bit of everything over the years.
“A wallet, a hat, a blanket,” he laughs. I did it. I bought it.”
Huddie promised to return to Prime Time, with friends, to buy more clothes before closing time.
The store will stay open until it’s gone, but Martin says he’ll leave with dignity.
“I didn’t give in to big Nikes and big dollars. I didn’t give in. I did it my way,” he told News5.
“That part of the military respect that’s in me just can’t be sacrificed or compromised, like I think Brandon Marshall and Colin Kaepernick both did. I don’t like losing a business because of that, but I prefer to be able to live with myself,” he added.
Martin estimates the store will close in about a month and is currently working with his staff to help them find other jobs.