Dave Windholz spends June to November at his lakefront cottage in Canada, enjoying a well-deserved retirement of sorts.
The 90-year-old hunting and fishing enthusiast, who started his own business shortly after returning from military service to Doylestown in the 1950s, spends the rest of his days where he always has – at work.
Although the business he opened on May 15, 1954 is now run by two of his three daughters, Windholz is still a large part of Dave’s Sports Center.
The family owned business, located at 1127 N. Easton Road (Route 611), Doylestown (Plumstead Township) since 1963, is celebrating a milestone this week – 65 years in business – with specials, door prizes and refreshments from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18.
Originally called Dave’s Sporting Goods Center, the store was located at 9 W. Court St., on the corner of Shewell Avenue in Doylestown Borough, from 1954 to 1963.
After serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1948 to 1952, Windholz, a 1947 graduate of Doylestown High School, returned home and went to work for a neighbor.
When the store owner retired, Windholz took over the shop at 9 W. Court St., and sold off the remaining auto parts store stock.
With $900, he purchased his own merchandise and opened Dave’s Sporting Goods Center.
“I wanted to sell fishing tackle because I fished and hunted,” said Windholz, still an active participant in the business that’s been run by his daughters, Diane Louden and Debbie Rufe, for the past 20 years.
“They do an excellent job, they really do,” Windholz said of his daughters. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Dave’s Sport Center is the center section of what is now essentially three stores, which are wide open to one another, allowing customers to wander through all three no matter which door they enter.
Dave’s still sells fishing tackle, as well as conventional fishing gear, and the store has a traditional feel. Adjoining Dave’s on one side is the high-ceilinged Mainstream Outfitters, which sells fly fishing equipment and offers seminars and lessons. On the other side is Dtown Disc Golf, established in 2012.
Louden, the youngest daughter, runs the fly fishing side and Rufe, the middle daughter, runs the traditional fishing side. Their older sister, Lynn Windholz, doesn’t work at Dave’s, but her son, Shawn Overturf, is the owner of the adjoining Dtown Disc Golf Store, which is run by Louden’s son, Kyle Louden.
“They all grew up hanging out here, and they knew how to run the register by the time they could see over the counter,” Windholz said of his daughters, adding the same was true of his grandchildren. “It’s always been all in the family. We’ve had a couple people over the years work for us, but not many.”
Even Sonja Windholz, Dave’s wife and mother of his three daughters, who died in 2013, worked in the store, located on a portion of what was her parents’ farm. She did desk work and helped customers, he said.
“We all just do it all,” Louden said, adding she and her sister, and other family member can, and do, help customers shopping in any section of the store. “Retail is in our blood,” she added.
“I never thought of doing anything else,” Rufe said. “I enjoy helping people.”
Dave’s has been through a lot of changes over the years – adapting to customers’ needs and changing with the times, selling camping trailers, boats and snowmobiles for a time and opening the fly fishing store 19 years ago as interest in the sport grew.
The original Dave’s in Doylestown Borough went on to sell equipment for sports including baseball, football, bowling and tennis, in addition to hunting and fishing gear Windholz said. The store in Plumstead no longer carries camping trailers, boats and snowmobiles, after spikes in gasoline prices affected business.
Internet shopping also has had an impact on business, Louden said. “You just sort of change with the times, you have to,” she said, adding the store allows customers to take fly rods out back to cast them to see how they feel, and provides lessons and seminars, things that aren’t available online.
“What (customers) can’t find online is the service. We’ve always been good to our customers,” she said.