NORWICH — Mayhood's Sporting Goods, located at 5217 State Route 12 in Norwich, is ringing in their 60th year in business. The store was awarded a New York State Historic Business Preservation Registry distinction on Friday, April 22, from New York Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, after being nominated by Assemblyman Joseph Angelino.
The registry was established in 2020, according to Assemblyman Angelino's office, and relies on the governor, lieutenant governor, and members of the state legislature to nominate historic businesses.
Mayhood's has long stood as a staple of the community. Owner Michael Mayhood said the store was started by his parents, Merritt "Red" Mayhood and Charlotte Mayhood, when he was around five years old.
"They started with bait only. My brother wanted to go fishing, and my dad said, if you pick the worms I’ll take you fishing," Mayhood explained. "They picked more worms than they needed and didn’t know what to do with them, so they put a sign on the front porch on Division Street that said worms for sale, and they sold the worms."
He fondly recalls picking worms with his grandmother, and the day he was finally allowed to join his father and siblings in their bait picking area.
"My grandmother was around then, and she would take me picking when I was real little and hold the flashlight for me. I wanted to go where my dad and my older brother and sister went, because they got a lot of worms at the high school, but I wasn’t old enough," said Mayhood. "I can almost remember exactly the day that my dad said, okay boy, you’re old enough. He says, you’re going to go with us tonight. And it was like getting a new sled for Christmas or something, you know? I was big!"
The business took off and only continued to grow over the years. Mayhood said his father put in bait ponds on a property he owned in New Berlin to catch minnows and crayfish, and neighborhood kids were hired on to pick worms. One of those kids was Angelino.
“I was pleased to present Mayhood’s Sporting Goods with this important historic designation. It was my honor to nominate this long-time business as a NYS Historic Business, which played a role in my childhood as Mayhood’s Bait Shop,” said Angelino. “I fondly remember, when I was about 10 years old, picking worms for the Bait Shop which at the time was right across from my childhood home. It was great work as a kid. Small businesses like Mayhood’s are what make small communities thrive.”
Mayhood even used his paper route and lawn mowing money to purchase tackle from Rappaport's Army and Navy Store to resell, thus transforming Mayhood's Bait Shop into Mayhood's Bait and Tackle.
"They gave me a deal on it so I was selling it for the same price that they were, and we did that about three or four times. And then my dad says, do you want to be a partner? So he split the bill with me and we became partners," said Mayhood.
In 1990, the store was rebranded again into what it's known as today: Mayhood's Sporting Goods.
"I changed the name twice. I went to Mayhood’s Bait and Tackle when we started getting a lot of tackle, and then in 1990 when we got in archery and clothing I went to Mayhood’s Sporting Goods. So it’s always been Mayhood’s," explained Mayhood.
"Just to sum up what we had for inventory, because we were the largest stocking dealer on a lot of this product in central New York, for firearms and ammunition and stuff like that. We have a trapping section that’s pretty good, accessories and scopes, and all that kind of stuff that nobody carries as much as we have," he added.
Today, Mayhood's carries firearms, ammunition, archery supplies, fishing supplies, paintball gear, footwear, clothing, and much more. Mayhood said he changes out some of the merchandise as well, depending on what customers are interested in at the time.
"We got into firearms. Archery first, we did the bow and arrow thing, had indoor archery leagues, had a good following for that. And then we tried other things along the way that worked out for a while, like the paintball fields. That was a good three or four years of business and then that started to run down, so we got rid of them," Mayhood said.
"We’ve tried a bunch of different things and sporting goods stuff. I mean, when my kids were in school we did field hockey sticks, and jerseys, and stuff like that for a while," he continued. "We’re still trying new things. We just ask the customers what they’d like to see and try to take care of that."
The years of dedication the Mayhood family has given to the community and their business is being recognized through their Historic Business Preservation Registry certification, which Mayhood said was "an honor."
"Not a lot of people get that opportunity. First of all, not a lot of businesses are around 60 consecutive years with the same name," he said. "And Joe has known me his whole life, so that was very nice of him to submit it and for me to be accepted."
Moving forward, Mayhood said there are no plans to expand or change the way they do things. He said he just wants to continue to serve their customers that have supported them all these years.
"We have a real good relationship with our manufacturers and our vendors, and we really appreciate our customers that have been loyal to us for a lot of years. We see a lot of the same faces here now as they were in 1990, so it’s kind of cool," he said.
"We’re just listening to the customers and do what it takes to stay in business. Right now I think we’ve got eight employees and we’re keeping them busy. And business has been good since the pandemic started. It’s been super good, and it’s still good. So we're going to continue."