Super Sports in Manhattan Beach has been selling athletic fashion and footwear for four decades.
And the owners planned to celebrate — even if it required wearing masks.
The small business commemorated its 40th anniversary with a ribbon cutting this week, the day after its owner’s 62nd birthday. The owner received thanks from Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery and celebrated with a cake. They all wore masks because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Rene Sandera got his first taste of business in 1978, when he was 19 years old. He said the experience wasn’t a good one, as the company that bought Manhattan Beach’s former La Mar Theatre to turn it into a retail center went bankrupt six months after Sandera put down his deposit to lease a spot.
“I lost all my money on that,” Sandera said.
But by 1980, he’d found a kiosk to open a tennis shop as one of the stores in the Manhattan Village mall. The kiosk eventually expanded into the mall building as other businesses moved out, Sandera said, growing from 600 square feet to 8,000 by 1990.
Sandera was a college tennis player and, the business owner said, he realized tennis was a leader in fashion at the time. So Sandera created the store based on that sport and carved a niche with the tennis community, he said.
Once the tennis craze of the 1970s and 1980s died down, his business, called Super Sports, started to diversify its inventory and branch out into other sports, Sandera said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s your typical sporting goods store,” said Chase Sandera, Rene’s son. As there’s “more like a small, beach town, South Bay vibe.”
The upscale, boutique-like store, as Johnson likes to put it, also tends to those shopping for beachwear and sunblock.
The sporting goods store is also known for being ahead of its time and staying up-to-date on trends in the sports fashion industry, Rene Sandera said.
Super Sports’ “shoe collection is now bigger than a lot of big box stores,” said Cathy Johnson, Rene Sandera’s sister-in-law, who has worked at Super Sports for about 30 years.
Those in the family business also attributed Super Sports’ longevity to a loyal and local customer base, and lots of referral business.
“We pretty much know the majority of our customers that walk in the door,” Johnson said. “People sometimes don’t even want to buy anything, but just pass by to see how we’re doing.”
But over the past four decades, owner Rene Sandera didn’t stop at owning the one business.
He opened another store inside Manhattan Village in 1986, sold licensed sporting goods — authentic gear from the NFL, NBA and other sports leagues — for about 10 years until closing, Rene Sandera said. He also ran a tennis pro shop at the Manhattan Country Club in 1982, the same year the club opened, where professional players got their rackets strung for tournaments.
Sandera’s ventures even expanded to building and selling golf driving ranges, he said, after managing The Lakes at El Segundo golf course in 1988, as well as opening a Marina Del Rey skate shop in 1996 that lasted about five years.
Rene Sandera’s said his strength is keeping local dollars in the local economy.
“If you’re thinking of buying a shoe,” he added, “to have our names on your mind rather than hitting a button online from an out-of-state retailer” is a claim to Super Sports staff historically taking care of its customers.