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If you are like many shoppers, you buy sports apparel and equipment at Dick’s Sporting Goods or Sports Authority, which have a combined 1,000 stores nationwide. But by doing that, you are missing a chance to up your game — whether it’s played on grass, snow, water, or asphalt.
In Consumer Reports’ first ratings of sporting-goods retailers, more than 26,000 readers reported on some 34,000 shopping experiences buying treadmills, skis, and the like. Almost 30 percent of the transactions took place at Dick’s and Sports Authority. But neither made readers as happy as did independent stores and pro shops, one-sport chains, or outdoorsy companies such as L.L.Bean and REI.
The merchants that pleased readers most offered value, wide selection, high-quality products, and solid service.