Our dealership has a rock solid reputation of providing excellent service, support and satisfaction. We pride ourselves on giving our customers the best service available, the best parts and accessories, and a staff that understands all aspects of our business.
Earl Leitz founded Leitz Sports Center in the 1950’s in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, but was frustrated by his inability to purchase top quality equipment and supplies locally. His first store was located on Ashmun Street, on the site that is now Little Caesars Pizza. Earl’s philosophy was to bring in top quality goods, provide excellent service and maintain the highest level of honesty and integrity. Earl also knew how to tell a good fishing story or two. He quickly found a loyal customer base and enjoyed many years of success at that location.
Over time Earl added in power equipment lines including Honda motorcycles and ATVs as well as Ski-Doo snowmobiles. In those days, a typical snowmobile cost around $350.00 and a motorcycle could be had for even less.
In the late 1960’s Earl was ready to consider retirement. He eventually sold the store to Randy Sanderson, who built a new store a little further up on Ashmun Street. That store was completed in 1970, and sits in the same location to this day. The new store was the utmost in modern design with bright yellow siding with turquoise accents! An old newspaper clipping reveals that the Grand Opening Celebration included a side of beef as a door prize.
Randy added his own touches to the store – adding Kawasaki products and Sea-Doo watercraft. He worked hard to maintain Earl’s vision of a store with high quality goods and excellent service. As the “big box” stores began to move into the area, changes were made to the product lines to ensure customers came to Leitz Sports Center when they wanted superior merchandise. Randy also brought in a full line of sporting goods, including hockey and baseball equipment. Red Suggitt was his partner during those years, and they enjoyed a stellar reputation as well as great success.
Randy ran the store until the late 1980’s when his son Terry took the helm. Terry had worked in the store off and on since he was about eight years old (he recalls a lot of sweeping in those days), and was the perfect choice to take the job. Once again, Terry wanted to make some changes to the business, and he eventually dropped the Kawasaki and Sea-Doo lines, in order to focus on Honda and Ski-Doo. He eventually dropped the sporting goods to make room for kayaks and canoes, firearms, motocross apparel, accessories and lacrosse equipment, as well as numerous boot and clothing lines.
In 2000, Terry’s wife Danna took over for Kay Sanderson (Randy’s wife) when she decided to retire. In the years since, both Terry and Danna have continued to add their touches to the store, adding many new products, providing a facelift for the storefront and generally making Leitz Sports Center into the store they had envisioned. They continue to review hundreds of new product lines each year, carefully considering which ones have the quality and value that Leitz Sports Center is known for.
Terry and Danna are also very committed to the community and the well being of its citizens. They sponsor many youth hockey players and Motocross racers, as well as donating generously to schools sports, charitable events and any number of causes supporting local people and wildlife. They have played an active role in the local American Cancer Society Relay for Life for the past ten years, donating the raffle grand prize of a kayak or generator each year. Danna is one of the founding Council members of the local Girls on the Run Chapter, which Leitz Sports Center funded generously in the early stages of development. Today this program impacts the lives of hundreds of local girls and their families. Danna also founded (with some friends) the annual Pink in the Rink event, which is a local women’s health expo held in conjunction with the Lake Superior State University Laker hockey team. Along with Coach Jim Roque and a dedicated crew, this event has been able to donate well over $40,000.00 to local women’s groups. Leitz Sports Center has underwritten this event each year. And there are plans underway for a summer music festival to be held in Sault Ste. Marie next year – to support women’s heart health. Leitz Sports Center will also underwrite this event.
Today, Leitz Sports Center still sits on the same site chosen over 40 years ago. The building has undergone two additions and one renovation, and the surrounding area has changed dramatically. In the spring of 2011 Leitz Sports Center was awarded the Historic Business of the Year Award for its ongoing commitment and dedication to the community, as well as its honesty and integrity in all aspects of business. Danna and Terry were particularly proud to receive this award, because it showed they continue to honor the dream that Earl Leitz had so many years ago. People often ask why they don’t change the name of the store, since Mr. Leitz has been gone for many years. They just smile and ask “Why?”