Sports-N-Duds owner reaches agreement

Lauren Polly

Despite rumors early this semester in the Greek community, Sports-N-Duds never closed and remains open for business.

“I heard that he closed and reopened under a different name,” said Nikki Hroncich, member of Phi Gamma Pi.

Lawyers representing 40 Greek national chapters sent the owner of Sports-N-Duds, Fred, a letter stating he had to stop distributing letters to Greek members until he got the letters in his store licensed. Because of this demand from nationals, many Greek members thought Fred was closing the store.

“The rumor got going and no one checked it out,” said Fred, who claims the mystery of his last name is part of his store’s allure. “One of the problems is that since we can’t do their own garments, we’ve slowed down. The other problem is there are other people doing it for them, which is against the law.”

Sports-N-Duds has been in business for more than 20 years and is the main source of Greek lettering for fraternities and sororities all over Ohio. The rumors of the store closing expanded to other colleges besides Kent.

“Nationals devastated my business and my family,” Fred said.

Fred eventually settled the dispute with the national chapter and is now licensed to sell letters. People used to be able to bring in T-shirts or other clothing items into the store to be lettered and Fred would do it. Part of the agreement with nationals was Fred can no longer letter shirts not bought from the store or from one of the nationals’ Web sites.

“It’s kind of upsetting because you used to be able to go to Wal-Mart and get a baby tee for three dollars and he would put letters on it,” Hroncich said. “The shirt would end up costing ten dollars. Now it’s at least double that.”

Sigma Nu’s Mark Treen feels Fred is a main part of the Greek community and said the Greeks were affected by nationals’ decision.

“I would rather see my money go to someone who knows me, my name and where I am from,” Treen said. “I don’t want my money to go to help some Internet company’s bottom line.”

Fred has a special relationship with the Greek community. He has secrets he has never told anyone and does not plan on telling anytime soon. Besides his last name, nobody knows what college he went to, if he was a Greek member and if he was, what fraternity he is in.

“It happened years ago as a guess and it has turned into this thing that has been going on forever,” Fred said.

These secrets have created a fun atmosphere in the store and are constantly discussed among Greeks.

Fred personalizes the shopping experience for each person who walks into his store. He knows everyone by name and knows what Greek organization they belong to. Kent’s Phi Gamma Pi is the only chapter of the sorority nationwide and Fred helped the members get letters and other memorabilia that they couldn’t find anywhere else.

“He’s been really cool for us,” Hroncich said. “He had a lot of variety for my sorority and offered to get us lavalieres. Other stores on campus don’t recognize us as a real sorority.”

Sports-N-Duds is moving to South Water Street before the end of the year. This move is not directly because of the problems Fred had with nationals, rather because it is a better location and will help reach new target markets.

Even with nationals hindering Fred’s business, he still has a positive outlook and continues to do anything he can to help the Greeks.

Contact Greek life reporter Lauren Polly at [email protected].