Shop Class – The Sporting Gent
Dedicated to dressing its clientele from the early morning hunting or fishing trip to when they sit down to enjoy that night’s freshly bagged dinner, The Sporting Gent in Charlotte, NC offers outdoor and indoor wear for men who are as dashing in their orange safety vests as they are in more formal gear later that night as they merely shoot the post-meal breeze. Owner Marc Williams, who features numerous local labels in the store, recently explained his shop’s wide-ranging appeal….
What is the background of The Sporting Gent?
I worked in sports marketing branding and wanted to try something new. I just always had this idea in the back of my mind and one day we just thought: Let’s do this thing and it kind of just materialized into this retail store. I wanted to make it the absolute coolest place that I can absolutely possibly think of and I want to do everything every day that can make it even cooler and create this destination shop and carry all these brands that I love. And it just kind of materialized. We opened October 1, 2013. We outfit people from all over the world for hunting and fishing trips and we sell some amazing brands in our store.
Your website says you carry everything from bow ties to dry flies.
Yeah. That’s our spectrum. And we even make now under own our own label anything underneath that spectrum. You can walk into the shop in the morning and say you’re going to a quail hunt and I can outfit you with everything you need minus the firearm and the ammo and then you can say I need to go out to dinner with those same people. And if you need a new sportcoat and tie and shirt and we’ve got you covered there.
What is the breakdown of your sports gear versus regular gear?
The point of the sporting lifestyle – and it’s something we’re talking about a lot these days – is having a field day. And having a field day is not necessarily just the sporting portion of it. It is not specific to the hunt; it is the entire thing. Especially in this region. It is hunt and the social aspects after the hunt. The Sporting Gent is again the spectrum. We curate goods for the sophisticated sportsman. I’ve learned things in school and from reading but I’ve learned more about life itself from hunting with my prior generations. The sporting life is as much as an educational tool is something about the pure hunting aspect of it.
What has been your favorite part of running the store?
It’s just the relationships that we’ve built. I’ve met a ton of really good friends since we’ve opened the shop and it is a really nice club. I’ve never met a stranger a day in my life. It’s a really nice club. Think of it as the Augusta National but one that anybody can join. That’s what the fun part is. We have these cookouts and parties. Give me a reason to throw a party, even if it’s just Tuesday, and we’ll have a really good time. A long time ago I heard a quote that was “I want a life that I don’t have to take a vacation from” and that’s what’s we are trying to do here. I think I’ve cooked 5,000 tons of oysters and a metric ton of pig.
Do you sponsor trips?
Yes. If you came to me said, “Marc, I want to go on a fly-fishing trip,” I could pick it out. If there is a season or a country, I could send you to that.
Do you plan to open other locations?
We are really focused on making this location an incredible destination and serving our community here. If we open another store that would be great but for now we are focused on this place and having a lot of fun and getting our online store opened up.
Describe the store’s overall vibe.
Sportsmen are the biggest storytellers in the world: “I once caught a fish and it was this big.” And we have a really good time with it. People come in and I shoot the proverbial. If they find something, fantastic, and if they don’t, fine, we’ll see you on the next trip. We’re really focused on taking care of people who come through the door and showing them a good time. My Golden Retriever is here every day. Her name is Quinn. If you want to talk about someone who has never met a stranger….