When former professional footballer Joe Forte hung up his own boots to sell footwear to others, sports retailing was a very different game.
“Once football boots just had to be a good fit and you could have them in any colour at all – provided it was black,” he recalls. “These days they’re rainbow-coloured, incredibly engineered and designed and, thanks to player endorsements and global media coverage, consumers know instantly the latest style and trend.”
By “keeping a finger on the pulse” and moving with the times, he has seen his shop, Joe Forte Sports, become a household name in his home town of Haddington, where his father ran a business before him. With the launch of the business in 1985, he decided to make sport his livelihood as well as his passion, serving the needs of fellow sports enthusiasts.
Having joined Hibs when he left school in 1975, he left the club three years later, following the death of his father, and played part-time with Berwick Rangers, then Meadowbank Thistle, while helping to run the family cafe.
A keen marathon runner and a founder of Haddington Running Club, his profile as a successful local sportsman provided a good foundation for his own venture.
“Mum had reached retirement age and I felt there was an opening for another sports shop in the town. The cafe closed in March 1985 and the shop opened in July,” says Joe, a former chairman of Haddington Business Association.
“It is testament to the people of Haddington and their willingness to support local businesses, that the town has two sport shops; one that has been here for over 40 years and mine that has been here for 32 years.”
Joe Forte Sports, 63-65 High Street, Haddington, 01620 824023, email@example.com. Opening hours: Mon-Sat, 9am to 5.15pm.