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Big 5 - The history

Big 5 was found in Sept. 1955 by Harry A. Liff, Maurie I. Liff, and Robert W. Miller who is the father of current CEO Steven G. Miller. The Company initially operated five stores in downtown Los Angeles, Inglewood, Glendale, Burbank, and San Jose, California under the trade name "Big 5 Stores."

In its early years, Big 5 focused on World War II army surplus items, as well as air mattresses and tents the Company manufactured itself, plus hand tools and assorted housewares. Sporting goods quickly became part of the product mix, a natural for the very active population of Southern California. In no time, sports merchandise became so well-liked that the management decided to specialize in it. In December, of 1963 the name was changed to "Big 5 Sporting Goods."

As at March 1971, Big 5 had expanded to 19 stores, at which point Thrifty Drug Stores acquired the Company, the West Coast's leading chain of drug stores. Big 5 operates as a subsidiary of Thrifty for the next 21 years. With Robert Miller still leading the Company he helped establish, Big 5 continued to prosper. Big 5 had expanded to 140 stores in Nevada, California, and Washington by 1992. The company built a 440,000 square foot distribution center in Fontana, California that was twice the size of the previous facility.

In 1992, Company management and Leonard Green & Partners acquired Big 5. Robert Miller remained CEO and Chairman of Big 5, while his son, Steven, was named President and Chief Operating Officer. During the first year following the change of ownership, Big 5 opened ten stores, followed by 15 in both 1993 and 1994, and 19 units in 1995. In the process of expansion, the chain entered the new markets of Idaho and Arizona in 1993, and Oregon, New Mexico, and Texas in 1995.