FARMINGTON — Golf USA is closing after more than 20 years in business in Farmington.
Owners Tom and Joan Watkins said the retail business -- which provides equipment and clothing for golfers -- struggled for the last five years because of the slumping local economy and a nationwide decline in golf rounds played.
Golf USA has been marketing a "retirement sale" since Nov. 7, and it will close its doors before the end of the year, said Joan Watkins, 62.
"I wanted to call it a retirement sale, but really it's a going-out-of-business sale," said Tom Watkins, 67. "I'm from the age that when you go out of business, you failed. But we've had a good run. We had 15 good years and five years where it's been falling."
Tom Watkins said Golf USA considered closing before Golf Etc., another Farmington golf store at 3501 E. Main St., opened this summer.
Almost all merchandise in Golf USA is marked down 25 to 75 percent.
Once the business closes for good, Tom Watkins said he will continue to repair golf equipment and replace golf clubs at his home, and Joan Watkins will sell kitchen supplies.
Joan Watkins said she and her husband opened the store, located at 3000 E. 20th St., in April 1993. Their son was playing high school golf, and the family realized there was no local business to buy him good, affordable golf clubs.
Originally, the Watkins had a recipe for success.
"Piñon Hills (Golf Course) was new, and golf was on the upswing nationwide," Tom Watkins said. "In 1993, you had names like Fred Couples and Greg Norman, and then in 1997 Tiger Woods came along."
Golf USA customers came from throughout San Juan County, the Navajo Nation and southwest Colorado, he said.
"They are special people. They are friendly and honest," said O.D. Bryan, an 82-year-old golfer and long-time Golf USA customer, of the business.
Bryan said that Tom Watkins "knows golf. He can give lessons and the prices are always right."
Golf Etc., pro shops at local public courses and Big 5 Sporting Goods will soon be the only places to buy golf equipment in San Juan County.
Tom and Joan Watkins, and at times their two sons, were the only employees at Golf USA. They kept the store open nine hours a day, six days a week.
Golf USA is the second locally owned, long-standing sporting goods store to close recently. Zia Sporting Goods announced in October it was closing after more than 30 years in business in Farmington.
"I think it's very important that the community understands how important it is to buy locally and from your small business because everyone is hurting," Joan Watkins said.
She added that buying merchandise on the Internet "not only hurts us, but it hurts the tax base that pays for the police, that pays for the firefighters, pays for our schools, pays for our infrastructure."Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.