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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Clarke Stephens Golf Shop closing after 45 years of operation

Clarke Stephens Golf Shop owners Linda and David Clarke plan to close the custom-made club business at 116 E. Nora at the end of November after 45 years of operation. They’re shown in their workshop on Sept. 23, 2019. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Clarke Stephens Golf Shop owners Linda and David Clarke plan to close the custom-made club business at 116 E. Nora at the end of November after 45 years of operation. They’re shown in their workshop on Sept. 23, 2019. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

Clarke Stephens Golf Shop, a longtime family-owned business known in the region for building, selling and repairing golf clubs, is closing by the end of the year after 45 years of operation.

Owners Dave and Linda Clarke are closing the shop at 116 E. Nora Ave. because of an increase in operating expenses. The couple also want to “slow down and enjoy life” after decades of running the business.

The couple sold the building that houses the shop in May to BTLC Investments LLC for $250,000, according to the Spokane County Assessor’s Office.

“We sold the building because it was just to the point where we were chugging along here and working too hard,” Dave Clarke said.

The Clarkes, who are leasing the building until the end of the year, will operate the golf shop until the end of November.

The Clarkes are planning a closing event to acknowledge 45 years of business. The event will be 3-7 p.m. Nov. 2.

The building is subsequently slated to house a call center for Envirocom Asset Recovery, a Spokane-based company that buys and sells backup generators, electric motors, chillers and transformers.

The Clarkes launched the golf shop with D.H. Stephens, who owned Spokane-St. Maries Auto Freight. Although Stephens has since retired, the Clarkes retained his name on the business.

For Dave Clarke, golf has been an integral part of his family. His father sold golf clubs as a factory representative and his grandfather was a golf pro.

He began repairing golf clubs in a garage behind the couple’s home, which is adjacent to the current business. The repair shop quickly attracted customers through word-of-mouth.

“At that time, nobody else was doing it,” Clarke said, referring to the work done at the shop. “Then, we moved over from the garage to this building and we started building on to this a little bit.”

The 3,300-square-foot building – built in 1932 – used to house an auto service station, which was moved from Division Street and Nora Avenue to its present location years ago. The Clarkes, in addition to expanding the building, also made improvements to the storefront in 1991.

The Clarkes said the shop survived the Great Recession and arrival of e-commerce stores because of loyal customers and the level of expertise with creating custom-made golf clubs.

Mike Mengert, nephew of former pro golfer Al Mengert, builds custom clubs at the shop. He also fits clubs at Indian Canyon Golf Course and created his own line of Mengert Red Hot clubs.

The Clarkes also partnered with Marlon Eng as well as Dave and Carisa Scharnhorst, owners of Dave’s Golf Shop in Clarkston, to offer clothing and shoes at Clarke Stephens Golf Shop, which helped boost sales.

The most rewarding aspect of running the business for decades was making lifelong friendships, Linda Clarke said.

Dave Clarke said he’s open to working part time for another golf shop in the future, or might consider launching a smaller golf shop if he can obtain a suitable space.

“We aren’t quite sure if we will completely quit at the end of the year, or if we’ll get into a smaller place and keep going,” Dave Clarke said.

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