The Dugout, Bronx's beloved sporting goods store, closing after 47 years in business
The Dugout, a beloved sporting goods store in the Bronx, is officially closing its doors on Jan. 23.
After 47 years of business on Castle Hill Avenue, store owner Linda Lionetti announced her retirement and that the store is closing.
What has formed in the business is far more than a sporting goods store -- it's a family.
"I started when I was 15, volunteering and helping out. Next thing I know, I say I'm going to stay here for a couple of years, and look, I'm still here," said the store's Stephen Maldacker Jr.
"I have friends that come in here, friends that bring their kids in here. I came in when I was a kid before I even worked here, so it's definitely sentimental," said employee Marcus Martinez.
In their final days, The Dugout Sporting Goods is selling off its merchandise, offering deals of up to 50% off.
Over the last month, customers have been using this sale as an excuse to come in and say goodbye to Lionetti and the team.
"There was a gentleman that came in that wanted to buy a glove for his baby son, just born, because his father bought him his first glove here, and that was touching. That really summed it up for me," said employee Robert Fernandez.
Lionetti told News 12 that over those 47 years, the business made it through two blackouts, 9/11 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
They have sponsored adult softball leagues and little league teams.
Lionetti even found love with the store owner across the street. They have now been married for 35 years.
The store's staff and customers sang praises for Lionetti and said her legacy and impact will live on long after her retirement.
"She's going to be missed. She really will be in this neighborhood. I told them that they should name Castle Hill Avenue Linda Lionetti Lane because of how many kids in this neighborhood she's helped," said longtime customer Dennis Mercorelli.
The Dugout Sporting Goods is closed on Sunday but will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. until the store's official closing.