When my family and I moved to Wisconsin Dells in the summer of 1969, the downtown area was very different from what it is today. Back then there was a grocery store in the middle of Broadway, two drugstores, a bakery, a bowling alley, A hardware store, two dime stores and several gas stations.
But just as the years come and go, so too do local businesses. Now in 2017, another staple of downtown Wisconsin Dells will soon fade into memory.
Opening its doors in October of 1994, after 23 years, All Time Sports will soon close for good, as its owners enter into a much deserved retirement.
All Time Sports was originally co-owned by Kathy and Dan Witecha, who previously owned and operated the Island Bay Resort in Lake Delton from 1978-1989, and Randy Paschen, a local businessman and sports enthusiest. Following Randy’s untimely death from cancer, Kathy and Dan assumed full ownership.
The Witechas, along with their son Mark, were hobbiests who collected a wide variety of sports cards. On weekends they would set-up at card shows around the state, buying, selling and trading with other collectors. In those early days they were known as KDM Enterprises (Kathy, Dan, Mark), and were well liked and respected in the hobby. In time it would be this shared passion for collecting that would ultimately blossom into All Time Sports.
When the store first opened, sports cards were the primary stock. With peg boards lining the walls, cards were displayed individually. Later as the hobby grew and expanded, so too did the stock. It wasn’t before long that other sports related items such as plaques, photographs, pennants, glassware, autographed memorabilia and novelties filled the display cases and shelves.
Over the years, “the card shop” as it is affectionately called, bore witness to several historic pulls. Two of the biggest came in the form of redemption cards, which are randomly inserted into packs of trading cards. One lucky customer redeemed an autographed game-worn jersey of Michael Jordan, while another won a game-used Ty Cobb jersey.
Perhaps the biggest pull of all at All Time Sports was won by the luck of the draw. In a drawing that first took place at the store, a local customer won an all-expenses paid, three-day weekend trip to New York City for the NBA draft. As if that were not enough, the winner also received an autographed basketball signed by each and every prospect!
For me personally, All Time Sports has been a second home. Whenever I feel the world closing in I can always seek refuge in the sanctuary of the store’s back room. There I’ll sit for hours, sorting baseball cards, shooting the breeze with Dan, and sipping on freshly brewed tea, a specialty of Kathy’s. How I shall miss that place, those times and those dear friends.
The building has already been purchased by the business next door, The Keg, and in all likelihood, will become an extension of the current venue.
For the Witecha’s however, retirement doesn’t mean rest and relaxation. The couple will maintain their vested interests in five area gas stations, as well as Springbrook, Knuckleheads, and the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena, where they sell various sports novelties.
Additionally, Dan will continue his duties at Olson Paint, which he purchased with Al Olson back in 1982. Come to think of it, the back room of the paint store would make a dandy refuge. I wonder if Al can brew tea?