Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles on downtown Huron renovation. For previous articles on Craig Lee and Jeff Pownell, please visit plainsman.com.
HURON — When asking for persons to feature in a series on downtown Huron businesses that are doing renovations, Connie Winegar’s name popped up frequently.
When asked why the respondent would suggest Connie for the series, answers were fairly uniform.
“Connie does so much for Huron!”
“Connie and PB Sports are huge parts of the community.”
“Connie IS Huron, through and through!”
Sitting down with Connie to discuss the work at PB Sports, those claims were perhaps short-selling the woman behind the screen printing and graphic design business located on 252 Dakota Ave. S.
“Orange is my favorite color and it is the Tigers color, so that works. Pat (Connie’s late husband) got in with the Huron coaches, so they came here to get all the sports stuff,” she recalled about the origins of the store’s connection to the local teams. “We both grew up as Tigers. My kids were in school here and were very active. I’ve always been a Tiger fan and will always love the Tigers.”
Connie continued: “I go places and see my Tiger shirts and it makes me so happy to see a bunch of people with my shirts!”
Many came to know the iconic pink facade of PB Sports over the years before the July 5 storm caused significant damage. (COURTESY PHOTO)
Located in a location with a long history, from roots as a wallpaper shop in the 1890s run by J.M. Blount, who was also registered with the state as one of a handful of pharmacists in Beadle County at the turn of the 20th century, the PB Sports building was constructed in the early 1900s by D.O. Root. Root used the space as a music studio and also sold various music items, such as radios of the time, through the store. Root also had a photo gallery and studio as part of the location.
Many retail businesses occupied the building from the mid-1940s through the 1990s, with many likely remembering the Treasure Chest Christian bookstore in the building
Connie’s husband Pat and his brother began PB Sports in 1999 at another location in downtown Huron, but the opportunity to move to the current location came from the Treasure Chest owners roughly 17 years ago through purchase of the building. Pat passed away in 2019, leaving Connie steering the ship of the business.
The familiar pink frontage and wide awning in front of the store was significantly damaged in the July 5 storm that came through Huron, tearing off pieces of the facade, and bringing water into the building that destroyed equipment.
Two months after the storm, the store is still waiting to get the equipment replaced to move forward.
“The water had just a tiny area to get in through the window and it did,” Winegar explained. “That fried our dryer and our tree, but we have to wait for approval from insurance before going forward and getting all that stuff replaced.”
And with the iconic pink front now down, what will the new frontage of PB Sports look like?
“I’ve kind of got an idea,” Winegar says, with an immediate look of enthusiasm. “I’m thinking of painting the lower area and getting some metal letters that say PB Sports. Then there’s some brick work that will need to be done. Whatever’s the best answer to make sure it looks good for three, five, ten years down the road.”
Connie is reviewing ISG frontage planning through Greater Huron Development Corporation (GHDC), but she reiterated that her financial position will dictate what she can do out of ISG’s ideas.
“I’m hoping to get a new door. With the GHDC matching grant program, that’s a possibility, thankfully,” Connie said. “However, it will all be determined by what insurance will cover. I’m just a small business lady, so I can’t dump a lot into things.”
The facade of the PB Sports building as it currently sits, with the bricks exposed after the July 5 storm.
While Connie has been Huron’s biggest cheerleader, she has also felt the support and love of her community in the most impactful time of her life.
“I couldn’t love Huron more. I also try to make a lot of t-shirts that promote kindness and positivity,” she explained. “Pat committed suicide, and this month is suicide awareness and prevention month, so we do put out things about that as well.”
“Huron got behind me when Pat was gone and supported me like none other — and they still do,” Connie continued. “I have people checking on me all the time. The kindness that this community has shown me .. .I just couldn’t love this community any more.”
She believes that her husband would love to see what is going on downtown with renovation.
“He loved history, so he would love what’s going on downtown right now with the buildings. I’m just glad I can be part of it.”