FLORENCE, S.C. – As the saying goes, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Either way, you could get your gear from Irby Street Sporting Goods.
The Irby Street Sporting Goods store at, you guessed it, 1333 S. Irby St., carries virtually every name brand in the outdoor sporting industry, with products including shotguns and rifles, more than 1,000 fishing rods and reels, camping equipment and even a few one- or two-man fishing boats. Irby Street Sporting Goods sells clothing and outdoor accessories as well, such as Costa Del Mar sunglasses, Drake and Under Armour apparel, YETI coolers and all the camouflage gear a hunter would want.
Irby Street Sporting Goods has been serving outdoorsmen in Florence and the Pee Dee area for more than 40 years after opening in 1973. Since then, the store has moved locations from a 1,200-square-foot building to its now 7,000-square-foot store, and it added a six-lane, 25-yard indoor archery range with a full bow shop.
Owner Todd Stewart said adding the archery range was a major reason for the expansion in order to provide a better bow selection and service for the store's bow-hunting clientele. Any hunter who purchases a bow from Irby Street Sporting Goods receives a complimentary fitting and two lessons to ensure the bow is perfect for the buyer.
“You get the professional fit, you get the lesson, and then you come back in two weeks and we do any fine tuning we need to do,” Stewart said. “We’ll have you hitting the bull's-eye before you leave.”
Stewart has been running the business since 1994 and said the store was begging for an expansion to offer its customers a better selection of products at a low price. In 2007, Stewart made that idea a reality, and the store has been at its large location ever since.
“I had always wanted to build another building, but I didn’t want to go too far away,” Stewart said. “We’ve got a good representation of all the brands. You usually can find something to fit everybody’s needs and price points.”
Stewart is the most recent of three sets of owners the business has had since opening in 1973. Stewart came to Irby Street Sporting Goods after working as an assistant golf pro at the Country Club of South Carolina for three years. At Irby Street Sporting Goods, Stewart said, he and his dozen employees set themselves apart from other sporting goods stores through their product expertise and exceptional customer service.
“The customer always comes first,” Stewart said. “All of our employees use the product, and even if they don’t, they will find somebody else in the store that does.”
Stewart said there is not a day that he doesn’t enjoy coming into work at the store, and he is excited about all of the success the business has had over the years. After owning the business for more than a decade, Stewart said, the most rewarding thing is building a relationship with the customers and being a part of their outdoor fishing and hunting experiences.
“It’s just a fun place to work,” Stewart said. “I’ve been doing it for so long I have guys come in and say, ‘You set me up with my first bow,’ and they’re coming back in and setting their son up with their first bow. That’s a real neat experience.
“I really enjoy what I do.”
For more information about Irby Street Sporting Goods and its products, visit irbystreet.net.