The Pelican Plaza Sports Authority, pictured here, is expected to close for good before the end of this week. Maggie Menderski/Herald-Tribune photo

Sarasota’s Sports Authority stores closing this week

The clock is running out for Sports Authority.

It’s the final seconds, and shoppers have the chance to steal the ball — and just about any other sporting related item they can imagine.

OK. Maybe not quite steal.

But with prices slashed 60 percent to 90 percent, it feels like it.

It’s been a rough year for retail. As strings of traditional retailers like Gap and Macy’s reported struggling sales, Sports Authority threw in the towel entirely and in early May announced plans to close all its stores.

The University Town Center and Pelican Plaza stores are making their last sales on Wednesday, and staff said Thursday is expected to be the last day for the store at Cattlemen and Bee Ridge Road.

I took the afternoon on Monday to scope out the close-out sales all three Sarasota locations.

After weeks of declining prices, the Sarasota stores still had a decent supply of athletic wear and shoes.

The University Town Center store was the most picked over, but it still had baseball helmets priced at 80 percent off, a few backpacks, a surplus of athletic socks, a selection of sunglasses and a small collection of fishing and golfing gear.

Shoppers there had taken the “everything must go” signs pretty seriously.

The clerk who checked me out there wasn’t sure that the store would make it until Wednesday.

The Pelican Plaza store still had a couple bicycles priced below $100 and even a few pieces of fitness equipment left, but the store on Bee Ridge Road appeared to have the largest selection.

Bee Ridge still had a few Wilson and Tommy Armour golf clubs hanging around. There were two large containers of baseball and softball bats to choose from. Nike footwear was marked down as low as $65 in some cases, and the supply of TOMS shoes was hearty.

Full disclosure: I haven’t worn cleats since my failed, short-lived soccer career in kindergarten, and I had to check with city/county reporter Zach Murdock to make sure that “stealing the ball” line at the top of this column actually made sense.

My lack of sports knowledge is evident in my own haul.

There weren’t any shin guards, baseball gloves or golf clubs in my shopping bags, but I’ve got two new pairs of Steven Madden sunglasses, a swimsuit, a pair of TOMS and new socks sitting on my Herald-Tribune desk.

The receipts show I saved more than $150.

The lot of it cost me $43.15 — which is less than the retail price of the TOMS alone.

Sports Authority may have thrown in the towel, but I think I’ll still call Monday’s shopping trip a personal win.

By the time you read this, there will be about two days left to say farewell to Sports Authority.

That’s plenty of time to make your own steal.

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