The woman who has been running the race to keep you properly outfitted in the best gear your favorite team has to offer for the past 17 years is about to hang up her cleats and step into retirement. Not, however, before she has one heck of a huge retirement sale to sell things down to the bare walls at her beloved Season Pass enterprise on Red Arrow Highway.
Marsha Chanel has been hard at it for years on end at Season Pass, working around the clock to make sure she had the very latest and greatest jerseys, t-shirts, jackets, towels, and everything else that can carry a team’s logo for your favorite teams and players across the board. Now, she’s going to wrap up that hectic career and put on her “Retired” varsity jacket.
So, how did this all come about in the first place? She wondered aloud one day, “How do you start a business?” For Marsha it began by looking around the area, asking herself, “What does our town need?” She worked hard to find a niche. Something we did not have.
She realized that there were little pockets of sportswear at places like JC Penney, Sears, and Meijer, but says, “It was nothing a fan could get enthused about.”
Once that decision was made on what route she wanted to go with her store, the question turned to, “Where do you find the merchandise?”
As Marsha tells it, “Someone had the ingenious plan to hold tradeshows in the middle of winter in the sunny south. So, with my dear friend Carol Lindenberg in tow, we headed to Miami.” She says, “We walked the aisles of the trade show collecting catalogs in an old suitcase, and once we got back to our motel, we spread the catalogs out all over the beds, the dresser, and the tables, and we started writing orders.”
Marsha admits, “Neither one of us new exactly what we were doing, we just ordered what we liked. Many times Carol had to rein me in, from ordering too much. We worked well past midnight, ordering, re-evaluating, and taking advantage of show specials, but always looking for vendors who supplied free display racks, because as we had nothing but blank walls and lots of hooks.”
Once they returned home to Michigan boxes started arriving in late February of 2003. Marsha says, “I remember the first thing we opened was license plates and 3 x 5 flags. We hung them on the wall, separating them to fill the space, making it look like we had a lot of merchandise. I started scavenging around looking for fixtures to hold clothes, hats, and collectibles.” She says that many times, they ended up designing and building their own fixtures.
One year later, the room was packed with gear from a broad array of sports, including:
Because of the burgeoning growth of her business, expansion was a must, and as luck would have it, the space next to Season Pass was vacant. Marsha says, “We were able to take down the adjoining walls, enabling us to create both a professional sports room and a collegiate room.”
Sports are so universal in appeal, that her Season Pass business was able to endure the 2008 recession and this year the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, because as Marsha puts it, “People need an outlet.”
She’s pretty convinced that the success of the store year after year has hinged on the fact that she has carried so many teams, including every NFL and MLB team, and more than 30 NCAA teams.
She has always boasted, “We Have Your Team,” and that even advanced into local high school sports gear for schools in the region.
Now, she confesses, “It is with a happy, but still sad heart to tell you that I am retiring,” and quickly adds, “Thank you to the many local customers for your support over the past 17 years. I always enjoyed asking people, ‘Have you been in before?’ and I would get both a yes and no answer at the same time. I finally figured out that the yeses were bringing out-of-town friends and relatives to see the store,” and concludes, “I watched many families grow up before my eyes as they would come in once a year on their annual trip to Lake Michigan.”
So, the beginning of the end is at hand for Season Pass, located at 3916 Red Arrow Highway in St. Joseph, across from Bosch Braking Systems. The end of the line sale starts next Monday, October 26th, and plans are to be completely wrapped up by Thanksgiving, one month later. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Season Pass is open Monday through Friday from 10am until 5pm and Saturdays from 10am until 4pm.