Eastbay is a leading world supplier of athletic footwear, apparel and sports equipment. It was established to meet the performance needs of local high school and college athletes within Central Wisconsin. Originally viewed as a grassroots project, this venture grew into a worldwide direct mail catalog and internet sales conglomerate featuring top athletic brands such as adidas, ASICS, Reebok, Converse, New Balance, Saucony and Nike.
The company began in 1980 when boyhood pals and high school coaches Art Juedes and Rick Gering set out to find professional-quality shoes for their athletes and ended up in business for themselves. With little more than $7,000 worth of running shoes and a dream, the pair took to the road and set up shoe clinics near their Wausau, WI hometown. At each stop they educated attendees with the benefits of their shoes and provided descriptive price lists.
Three years later, in 1983, these price list handouts became a four-color catalog featuring shoes for track & field and baseball. The catalog was a catalyst for sales. In 1988, phone operators were hired to take orders. In 1989, Eastbay began a Team Sales division and in 1990 created and produced its first in-house Team Sales catalog. By 1990, Eastbay's Call Center, Shipping and Creative Departments occupied nearly an entire city block.
Eastbay also established its own clothing brand in 1990, offering jackets, pants, shorts and tops in a variety of team colors and styles, all featuring the signature Eastbay logo.
On Friday, Sept. 29, 1995 Eastbay went public and opened on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Two years later, shareholders sold the company to retail giant Woolworth.
In July 1997, Eastbay moved its downtown corporate operation and retail store to a larger space in Wausau's near west side. Three months later it combined the shipping department and various warehouses into a new 500,000-square-foot Distribution Center located in the outskirts of Wausau. In March 1998, Eastbay converted its informational website into an active ecommerce site at www.eastbay.com. Eastbay also manages an additional call center in Oshkosh, WI.
Although an era ended when Eastbay founders Art and Rick retired on June 30, 1999, the business continues to thrive. Eastbay's parent company, Woolworth, also underwent revision in November 2001, changing its name to Foot Locker, Inc., a reflection of its global commitment to the athletic footwear and apparel business.
Employees: nearly 1,500
Dowe Tillema, President/CEO, Eastbay
Parent Company: Footlocker, Inc.