If you want to show your Sun Devil pride, there’s no better place to buy Arizona State University (ASU) gear than Cactus Sports in Downtown Tempe. Cactus Sports is celebrating their 25th year in business in 2017. Considering how many retailers have come and gone over the years, their success is a testament to a passionate owner, a great staff and the consistent quality (and style) of their ASU clothing, merchandise and gifts.
Cactus Sports will celebrate their 25th anniversary with a 25% off sale off of everything in the store on April 15, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. This event coincides with the ASU spring football game at 2 p.m. Juan Roque, who played ASU football from 1992-1996, will be in the store from 11 a.m. to noon to sign autographs and meet fans. He’ll also bring his framed Rose Bowl jersey.
The owner of Cactus Sports and ASU Alumni, Troy Scoma, has been involved in the operations since day one. After Troy graduated from ASU, he helped his brother, Jeff, open Cactus Sports in January 1992. Their first location was in the historic Andre Building at Fourth Street and Mill Avenue. The original location was only 792 square feet, but was packed with everything that a Sun Devil fan could ever want. In 1995, Troy became the operating manager and partner of the business.
In August 1999, the Andre Building caught on fire and forced the tenants of the building during its restoration and renovation. In March 2000, Cactus Sports re-opened with the all of the same employees. In April 2001, Troy bought his brother out and became the sole owner of Cactus Sports.
We asked Troy how the store’s location on Mill Avenue has contributed to its success. He said, “Most similar college fan shops have to rely on the typical pattern of when a college year is busy/slow. Being in Downtown Tempe changes this pattern quite a bit. Several hotels nearby bring business guests and tourists.” He added, “With the Valley hosting many youth sports camps, big sporting events and Tempe Beach Park events, it brings in business that helps to spike sales seemingly every month.”
Troy believes that being open to change is one reason why he’s been in business for so long. “Change is good and we are always looking to do things better. Everything from the appearance of my store (inside and out), the service of our guests and how smooth everything is operating can always be improved on.” One of the biggest changes occurred in 2013 when Cactus Sports moved to 514 S. Mill Avenue, doubling the size of their retail sales floor.
When Cactus Sports first opened, there were 7-8 stores on Mill Avenue alone that sold ASU merchandise. In addition to those locations, there were over six off-campus stores within a 1-2 mile radius and the on-campus ASU bookstore. Now there are only three competitors left that are less than two miles away.
No matter how many stores sell ASU gear, Troy believes that people still value local businesses. “I’m striving for a personal touch that our guests won’t get from my competitors so they will hopefully want to shop locally. I’m very passionate about what I do and I still truly enjoy going to work every day.”
Another thing that really sets Cactus Sports apart from the competition is that Troy has helped reintroduce vintage ASU logos on merchandise that he has had a hand in designing. We asked him how that process works.
“Collegiate licensing created the College Vault in 2007 in order to give new life to retired university logos. After seeing what vintage logos ASU had to offer, I was disappointed there weren’t more to use and sell on products. I had found many rare ASU items on eBay with several vintage logos that weren’t available in the vault. I approached ASU Licensing about adding several logos so we could sell items with logos not seen in decades. Thanks to the great relationship with ASU Licensing we were able to create about six new vintage logos for the vault.”
A die-hard ASU fan, Troy has proudly seen some of his original designs at home and away ASU football games. This creates another opportunity for Cactus Sports to make an impact on a personal level. “If I’m at an ASU football road game and I see a person wearing something I designed, I like to go out of my way to thank them for their business and sometimes even buy them a drink.”
Troy and his team also use social media as a way to acknowledge their loyal customers. “I choose random people on social media for small giveaways to congratulate them on an accomplishment or significant event in their life.”
And, as an official ASU retailer, every purchase made results in royalties that help support the university.
The next time you need some new maroon and gold attire, be sure to visit Cactus Sports, located at 514 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281. You can reach them at (480) 894-1278, on their website or Facebook page.