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    Mike Flanders has learned two important lessons in 42 years of business: stick to what you’re good at and don’t be afraid to ask. He now oversees operations at Shively Sporting Goods, the business his parents opened in 1968. He started there in 1972 doing odd jobs after school.

    Since the beginning, the majority of the store’s business has been team sales — customized jerseys, trophies and the like. Flanders says the company has made awards for all the local Catholic high schools, plus Bellarmine and the University of Louisville. One of those awards hangs in Cardinal basketball coach Rick Pitino’s office. Shively Sporting Goods started with six employees and has grown to 25, including Flanders’ mother, sister, three sons and one nephew.

    He says the way the store looks hasn’t changed much since 1968. Shoes, socks, cleats, protective padding — basically anything you’d need to play a team sport — hang on walls and racks. Virginia, Flanders’ mother, who still works in accounting at the store, says Converse Chuck Taylors were a big seller when they first opened. Their biggest sellers now? Nike Hyperdunk and Adidas Crazyquick basketball shoes.

    Flanders learned the value of going out and building business relationships early on in his career. “Dad flipped me his car keys and said, ‘Go out and try to find me some business,’” he says. “So I used to go over to Crawford Gym where U of L used to play pickup ball. That’s where coach (Denny) Crum’s office was. So I went in there and just cold-called coach Crum, knocked on his door, introduced myself, and he ordered three dozen socks and three dozen jocks.” U of L athletics has been a client ever since.

    Photo courtesy Mickie Winters 

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    About Amy Talbott

    Piscean. INFJ. Cat person. Runner. Mediocre housekeeper. Excellent cook. Scours the sleaze on Craigslist so you don't have to.

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