City Sports Brought Back to Life by 30-Something Wharton-Grad Brothers

Yes, they're planning Philly locations.

The former City Sports location at 1608 Walnut Street (Photo by Jared Shelly)

The former City Sports location at 1608 Walnut Street (Photo by Jared Shelly)

City Sports is back from the dead.

As you might recall, City Sports liquidated all its assets and closed all 26 locations nationwide — including three in the Philadelphia area. The company filed for bankruptcy in October and was unable to find a buyer willing to keep the stores open.

But in that bankruptcy liquidation, Brent and Blake Sonnek-Schmelz bought the brand, logo and website — and have their eyes set on a complete re-launch including e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores.

The Sonnek-Schmelz brothers are both Wharton grads and already own Soccer Post, a chain of 33 soccer gear stores across the country. They didn’t disclose the price they paid for the City Sports brand.

A relaunched City Sports will come in waves. First, the Sonnek-Schmelz brothers will sell merchandise online. (Currently the website just says “City Sports will run again.”) Then they’ll scout for retail locations in Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Washington D.C.

“We believe in brick-and-mortar,” said Brent Sonnek-Schmelz. “Online is a place for price competition. Brick-and-mortar is a place where you connect with your customers and build relationships.”

But don’t expect City Sports to reclaim its spot at 1608 Walnut Street because the old retail locations weren’t part of the deal.

Brent Sonnek-Schmelz also said that he couldn’t estimate the amount of retail stores they plan on opening but said he plans to stick to city centers — saying that going into suburban markets was one of the things that hurt the previous version of the company and helped cause it to fall into bankruptcy.

“We’re going to stick to our core customer which is the urban athlete,” he said. “We want to connect with that 25 to 40-year-old person who loves working out, running and being an active person.”

With the nearly iconic T-shirts and long-standing stores in the center of four big cities, City Sports has serious brand awareness, and said that was a big reason why they purchased it.

“In Philly, I shopped there all the time,” he said.

Fun Fact: If the name Brent Sonnek-Schmelz sounds familiar, he was on an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and won $100,000.

This is what you see when you go to

This image is now on the homepage of

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with BizPhilly — here’s how: