Case Close: Los Angeles-Based Group Purchases Sports Equipment and Clothing Company in Egremont | Business
EGREMONT – A well-known sports equipment and clothing store that has served South County for over 60 years has been sold to a subsidiary of a Los Angeles-based holding company that is looking to expand further into the outdoor recreation.
Kenver Ltd., located in a historic 18th-century building at 39 Main Street, was recently purchased for $ 1.23 million by OvareVentures, a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based OvareGroup, according to documents filed with the Southern Berkshire Registry of Deeds at Great Barrington.
OvareVentures builds, acquires and invests in businesses that can benefit from OvareGroup’s marketing services, which include advertising and video production.
Kenver will retain its name under the new owners, and no local staff changes are currently planned, said OvareGroup spokeswoman Kate Gray.
The store has operated only during the winter months for the past three years – Kenver employs 16-20 workers from December to February. But, the new owners plan to operate the store year round, said outgoing Kenver president Lucinda Vermeulen, who has run the store since 1983. Vermeulen, who is also a member of Egremont’s board of directors, said stated that she was staying for the time being. , to facilitate the transition to a new owner.
“That’s basically what I commit to with them,” said Vermeulen, the wife of company founder Ken Vermeulen, a longtime sportsman who died in 2012. “We really need to make the transition in community and making sure everyone understands what it is. We are known for our customer service and authenticity.
“The situation for me is that I am not getting any younger and I have to do something else,” she said. “I’ve been running it for about 35 years. That’s enough.”
But, it is still difficult for Vermeulen to walk away from a company in which she has been involved for so long.
“It’s sweeter than bitter because of the weather in my life, but yeah, it’s hard to go away,” she said. “I like what we stand for and be part of the community.”
OvareVentures found out about Kenver through its president, who lives on the east coast, according to Vermeulen.
“These guys came down and contacted us out of the blue,” she said. “I only wish them success. They know how to run a 21st century business. I’m too old to bring it to this level.
OvareVentures has big plans for Kenver.
“Our hope is to grow the business and hope it grows,” Gray said. “We are trying to expand our outdoor product portfolio, so we hope to inject growth into Kenver and help propel what was already a great brand. “
OvareGroup, originally based in Louisville, Ky., Recently formed OvareGroup Outdoor to manage its burgeoning leisure portfolio, which Gray says consists primarily of brands aimed at consumers. Kenver is the company’s first venture into the outdoor brick-and-mortar retail space, Gray said. Kara Anastasiadis was officially named president of OvareGroup Outdoor on August 30, according to a press release from the company.
“We see an opportunity for Kenver to serve as a hub for all things the outdoors, and I am delighted to welcome them to OvareVentures’ expanding portfolio of assets,” Anastasiadis said in a statement.
Kenver’s origins date back to 1959. Ken Vermeulen, originally from New Jersey, was a marksmanship instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point and began his entrepreneurial career by opening The Kenver Archery Co. in Great Barrington, which was selling custom arrows shipped. of the whole world.
With a close friend Ernie Beckwith, Vermeulen went on to open Kenver Sporting Goods on Railroad Street in Great Barrington, a store specializing in hunting, fishing and ski goods. Kenver opened after Vermeulen moved to Egremont over 40 years ago.
Kenver currently offers sports equipment including skis, bikes, snowboards and ice skates, in addition to sportswear, footwear, craft clothing and home accessories. The company has twice been named New England’s Best in ski, snowboard and cross-country ski shop awards presented by New England winter sports representatives.
The original section of the historic Kenver building was built to serve as a stagecoach stop for the Egremont Tavern in 1731, 44 years before the town was incorporated. The building was extended in the 1960s and includes two apartments on the top floor.