Edwin Watts' Charleston golf store to close in February

Golf-equipment retailer Edwin Watts is on its way out of Charleston after nearly 30 years in the local market.

The Florida-based chain filed for bankruptcy protection in November. Last week it sold its assets to Worldwide Golf Shops, and liquidator Hilco Merchant Resources LLC for $40.8 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

While the deal will allow about half of Edwin Watts' 91 stores to remain open, the Charleston location at 946 Orleans Road near Citadel Mall will close in mid-February, said store manager Jack Hinkle.

The store has been in the Lowcountry since 1985.

"Not a lot of places can make it in retail for 29 years," Hinkle said. "We're happy we could contribute to the Charleston golf market, and we hung on as long we could. We had a good run."

Hinkle said that the West Ashley shop has always been profitable, primarily because of the Lowcountry's strong golfing community. But over the past decade, the store has faced repeated challenges.

"Overhead got higher, cuts got deeper. And you're operating on a razor-thin margin in the golf industry to begin with," he said.

Hinkle will continue working for Edwin Watts in other markets, and he said he hopes his store's employees will continue working in the local golf industry.

Customers can no longer buy or redeem gift certificates at the store, but they can do so online, Hinkle said.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail

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