You know that nice new sign put up this winter outside Mack’s Sport Shop on Mill Bay Road? They’re going to have to change that. Mack’s, along with Anchorage’s Army-Navy Surplus stores, are taking the name of the third store in the group owned by the same family: Big Ray’s.
“We bought Mack’s from Tom and Cheryl Merriman in 2008, we took over. And it’s just been very complicated to manage three web pages and three marketing plans. And our customers get confused when they travel between the stores, so a few months ago we started thinking about just combing down into one brand,” said co-owner Monte Rostad. “And it just a made a lot of sense for a lot of good reasons.”
Other than a new sign and how the phone is answered, Rostad says nothing’s changed.
“We’re still the same family-owned, same staff, same great team. The only thing that’s changing is the name is the name of two buildings and one in Kodiak. And then, like I said, it allows us to focus on building one brand, and we’re excited about that.”
“It took a little bit of adjustment to get used to. Several of us here, the majority of our adult lives have answered the phone, ‘Mack’s Sports Shop,’” said Kodiak store manager Jesse Glamann said. But we all understand it’s a decision and a direction that we have to go to grow the company.”
Rostad joked that there was some talk of naming all the stores Big Mack’s, but he said that was already taken. In any case, changing the long-standing names of stores that have been around for decades was not a decision he and the other owners took lightly.
“It’s a very difficult decision to give up the Army Navy name and the Mack’s name,” Rostad said. “Very emotional, because those names represent a lot of history, a lot of hard work and a lot of community support where they’re located. So it was tough. We went through a lot of heartache and a lot of thought and that sort of thing, but realized it’s the best thing to do.”
And if you’re wondering just who Big Ray is, he was a 6-foot 7-inch basketball player for the Alaska College of Agriculture and School of Mines in Fairbanks in the mid 1930s. That school is better known today as the University of Alaska Fairbanks. When he moved to Anchorage, Milan Raykovich – Big Ray to his friends – became a partner in the Army Navy Surplus Store. Upon returning to Fairbanks, the owners’ group named their stores there after Raykovich. He sold his share in the company in 1961 and moved to Washington State, and passed away in 1989.