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Article updated: 1/2/2013 2:52 PM

Soccer Plus stores closing in Palatine, Libertyville

By Anna Marie Kukec

One of the first business casualties of the new year will be Soccer Plus, a longtime retailer of soccer and lacrosse equipment and attire. The specialty retailer will close its stores in Palatine and Libertyville starting this weekend.

After nearly 18 years, Soccer Plus owner and President Bob Naughtrip said Wednesday that the Libertyville store will close by Sunday and he'll move the remaining merchandise to the store at 456 W. Northwest Highway in Palatine for a liquidation sale. The Palatine store then will close by the end of the month.

A combination of the weak economy since 2009, and increases in the Cook County real estate and sales tax all contributed to a "significant" debt for the stores, Naughtrip said.

"We always wanted to have our headquarters in Palatine and even expanded, so we had a lot of good years," Naughtrip said. "We also had a lot of support from the local communities up until recently."

About a half-dozen employees will be laid off. Fore Front Properties is handling the sale of the building, which is near downtown Palatine, with the asking price of $1.75 million, said Realtor Kevin Cox.

A large portion of the stores' sales came from local soccer and lacrosse teams, but some clubs went outside the area and Soccer Plus lost those sales, Naughtrip said.

Naughtrip, who grew up in Ohio and didn't play soccer, became interested in the sport when his children played soccer about 20 years ago. Before that, he was a sales director for Michelin Tire Co. and sold to major retailers, including Sears.

"Actually 2012 was one of our best years, but it still wasn't sufficient enough to help us," he said.

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