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Knoxville soccer store closing as online sales soar

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - As online sales continue to soar, brick and mortar stores continue to pay the price. Soccer Post in west Knoxville recently sent notice to customers they would close December 24. 

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals $127.3 billion in sales in the second quarter of 2018. That number is up 15.2 percent from the same period in 2017.

Manager Austin Rhodes says he's thankful for their loyal customers, but says the store can no longer compete with the internet. Rhodes explains it as an ongoing battle. He says with Amazon recently beginning to sell soccer cleats as well as box stores such as Kohls, both offering online and store discounts, the store can't compete. Ten years ago, he says the battle was much easier, when their main competition was Soccer.com. 

The store means a lot to Rhodes and his family. He even says he met his fiance in the store. However, much of the traffic he sees day to day is from people who come in, try on cleats, only to order the same pair online. 

He says he tried to get as close as he could to the online stores, offering price-matching or attempting to come close.  

"Online is the new storefront. It has been that way for the last few years now. It sucks we're having to close but at the same time we're having to fight against an uphill battle that we don't see ending anytime soon," he said.

Kevin Anderson is one of many soccer dads who counted on the store for gear. Since his son was six, he has counted on the store for guidance, advice and tips on the sport. Now, Anderson is a referee and his son his is still playing ten years later. 

Anderson admits, he's had to buy some things online. He also warns against it saying, "You'll make mistakes. Oftentimes you order the wrong thing or you don't know exactly what you're ordering or simple things like cleat patterns that had to get explained to me by our local store." 

Anderson is noticing a spike in soccer playing in East Tennessee. He estimates it to be at least a 30 percent boom. Rhodes believe the influx of soccer players will likely buy online. 

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