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Gordy’s Skate Co. Celebrating 30 Years in Downtown Ludington

Gordy’s Skate Co. Celebrating 30 Years in Downtown Ludington

Custom On-Demand Screen-Printing Business Looks at its Past and Bright Future as a Family-Owned Business Here

Gordon and Robin Gesswein are celebrating an important milestone in 2024 as they look back at 30 years of business in Downtown Ludington as owners of Gordy’s Skate Co. The couple has operated this sports shop together – selling everything from skateboards and ice skates to snowboards and t-shirts – and they are still enjoying their service to the community.

“We started our business in May of 1994,” Gordy explained. “We joined a home-based business franchise called Sport It and operated out of our basement for almost a year before having a retail, brick-and-mortar presence. At that time, there were over 1,200 Sport It dealers in the U.S. In our first year, Robin was named the Sport It Dealer of the Year.”

Gordy’s Skate Co. has since been in several locations downtown, operating from where The Mitten Bar is presently located to a building ABC Kidz now occupies. The store has been at 104 W. Ludington Avenue for the past 12 years, and the Gessweins have made changes to the business and modified their business plan to meet the demand for products and services in the area.

“The internet, online ordering, and Amazon forced us to change the way we do business, in a good way,” Gordy said. “We used to sell hockey equipment, ice skates, rollerblades, snowboards and shoes. Although it was fun and exciting, it was also very risky when anyone could order on Amazon, get it in a day or two, and usually at a lower-than-suggested retail price. It's tough to compete with Amazon.

“We decided to change our business plan. Since we already did custom screen printing and embroidery, we focused on offering Ludington- and Michigan-themed apparel. We create our own designs and offer quality clothing for our customers to choose from.”

Every year, the couple brings in new garments to Gordy’s selection, and loyal customers always look forward to their new designs and logos, Gordy explained.

“We listen to their input, as well as our co-workers’. We attend trade shows and seminars. We really try to put ourselves in our customers' shoes and give them what they want by giving them lots of choices. Our clothing sizing starts at six months and goes all the way up to 6XL. We offer clothing for the entire family. We appreciate our customers who come back year after year.”

Gordy’s Skate Co. is packed with apparel and invites customers to stop in and choose a design – and an employee will screenprint a shirt for you right away. The business also specializes in bulk orders to serve the local area. 

“Some people think of us as a skate shop, and although we do sell a lot of skateboards, it is only about 5 percent of our total business,” Gordy said. “Ninety-five percent of our business is screen printing, embroidery and on-demand, in-store printing. We continue to strive to be the best we can be in our business model. It's something we truly love to do, and our reward is our happy customers.”

The Gessweins pride themselves on being a family-owned business, employing not only their two daughters but two granddaughters as well. During their busy season, Gordy’s employs 11 people, mostly high school and college students who are home for the summer. The Gessweins look at them as their “kids” and feel they are an extension of their family.

“We feel the future looks bright for Ludington,“ said Gordy. “Everyone wants to visit here or live here. Our goal is to continue to strive to offer what our customers want and to be at the front of trends and designs. We also continually invest in new equipment and technology. Our customers expect it!

“We love Ludington and feel fortunate to be able to live here and have our family business in such a beautiful community.”

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