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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Del Re’s Still Outfitting Community 50+ Years Later

The family-owned Del Re Western Outdoors located on Central in South Phoenix has been outfitting the Valley since 1954. What started as a shoe, clothing and army surplus store has evolved into a local landmark that specializes in meeting the unique needs of its community.

According to Al Del Re, Jr., a third generation Del Re and the current owner, the store has survived more than five decades, including a number of recessions, by adjusting with the times.

When the store first opened more than 50 years ago, its customers were cotton farmers and cattle ranchers living and working in South Phoenix. Today, the Del Re Family keeps its western outdoor tradition, serving fishing and hunting enthusiasts and a solid Latino customer base with jobs in construction and a penchant for Western wear.

“We have a pretty good Hispanic following,” said Al, Jr., who manages the store with the help of his son James. “Most of them are in the construction trade and they enjoy the Western wear for their casual wear and going out clothes.”

In keeping with their customers’ tastes, Del Re features a vast array of Levi’s and Wrangler jeans, colorful, button-down Western shirts, and cowboy boots and hats in a range of prices. But, the Del Re’s also stock their customers’ favorite work wear, too – maintaining a solid collection of steel-toed boots and Dickies brand work shirts, overalls and dungarees.

Hoping to further expand their customer-base, the Del Re family introduced an online store about three years ago. Today, it offers both English and Spanish-language online ordering capabilities and the store ships its outdoor gear and Western clothing around the country.

Lovers of outdoor pursuits, hunting and fishing, the Del Re’s also carry a large collection of fishing equipment, camping gear and hunting attire. They’re Arizona Game and Fish licensed dealers and make it their business to know what’s happening in the local game and fish community.

“We can answer a lot of questions for our customers, provide fishing reports, and information about big game hunting,” Al said.

They can also answer questions about Arizona’s big game lottery, which according to Al is fairly difficult to enter. “We’re even available to help people fill out their applications,” Al said.

Not only can the Del Re’s provide tips and suggestions about hunting and fishing in Arizona, they can also outfit their customers with the necessary gear. The aisles are packed with fishing poles, bait and tackle, coolers, camping stoves, a variety of hunting and pocket knives and ammunition.

Al Del Re, Jr. and his son James are the third and fourth generation of Del Re’s respectively to work at the store. The store was originally established by Al’s father Al Del Re, Sr. and his grandfather Pat Del Re after they made their way to Phoenix from West Virginia in the late 1940s/early 1950s. After working in an army surplus store for three years, Al, Sr. partnered with his father to open their own store at Broadway and Central. Pat, a shoemaker by trade, plied his craft in the back shop of the store, making and repairing shoes, while his son sold the shoes, clothing and army surplus.

Inspired by the success of the Arizona Del Re’s, two of Pat’s brothers, Al, Sr.’s uncles – Mickey and Eddie – traveled west to Phoenix and established another store – Del Re Sporting Goods – at 12th Street and Northern.

For almost 30 years, the Del Re brothers – Eddie and Mickey – and Pat and his son Al, Sr., owned and operated the two Del Re stores. When Al, Sr. finally decided to retire in the early 1980s, he sold the store to his sons Al, Jr. and Joe. Eventually, Eddie sold his half of the north Phoenix store to his brother Mickey who moved the store to 16th Street and Indian School. A few years later in 1986, the third generation of Del Re owners – Al, Jr. and Joe, purchased the north Phoenix store from their great-uncle, Mickey. While Al, Jr. managed the original store in South Phoenix, Joe managed the sporting goods store until 1992, when the brothers consolidated the two stores into Del Re Western Outdoors at its present location on Central between Southern and Roeser Avenues.

Today, Al, Jr. owns Del Re Western Outdoors and manages it with the help of his son James, who joined the family business about six years ago. After more than 50 years, the Del Re’s continue to serve their customers and the local community, meeting their western outdoor needs and adjusting to the times.

For more information about Del Re Western Outdoors, visit their store at 5437 S. Central Avenue in Phoenix or visit them online at www.delrses.com.


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