CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.—Right off of the Mississippi River and directly southeast of Missouri State University sits Howard’s Athletic Goods in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. After serving the greater area with trophies and sporting goods for the last 74 years, Howard’s plans to close this summer. Owner Terry Slattery says he is ready to retire after working for the retailer for 35 years.
Howard’s was founded in 1945 by B.I. Howard and the first employees were Paul Bray and Frank McClanahan. Over time, it became the place to go for athletic gear and provided local schools as well as Southeast Missouri State University with apparel, swim caps, trophies, and more. Slattery, who purchased the shop in 2013 and is now the sole employee, remembers a time when the shop had up to 15 employees.
Slattery first started working at Howard’s in 1984. “At that time, we were a full-line sporting goods store,” he explains. A popular service the shop provided was embroidering letterman jackets. There was even a time when it sold canoes. Howard’s also offered men and women’s clothing, along with a trophies and plaques department.
According to Slattery, the shop’s original engraving machine was a pantograph. In the 1980s, it purchased its first computerized engraving machine, a Dahlgren Wizard with a 4" X 6" engraving area. Over the years, the shop upgraded to a Xenetech, and eventually an Epilog machine, which it uses today.
“My favorite part of working for Howard’s was meeting and helping all the people that came through our doors for the last 35 years and being mentored by Mr. Paul Bray, who taught me the importance of customer service,” Slattery states.
Flattery plans to sell the merchandise and equipment before the start of summer.