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A family affair at Newtons
Sports shop specializes in hunting and fishing
Biz Newtons
Three generations of the Newton family are seen above on the sales floor of Newton's Sport Shop on Northside Drive in Statesboro. Founded in the early 1950's by Hubert and Maize Newton, Newton's Sports Shop has been the bait, tackle, and hunting supply stop of choice for many local residents over the last 50 years. Standing (l-r) are Susan Newton, Kim Newton, J.J. Newton Wiggins with son Chase, and Jody Wiggins. - photo by JAN MOORE/staff
    Originally founded as a grocery store on Savannah Avenue by Hubert and Mazie Newton in the early 1950's, Newton's Sport Shot has been a main supplier of hunting and fishing gear to several generations of Bulloch County residents.
    Susan Newton, widow of Jack Newton, who bought the sport's shop from his uncle Hubert Newton in 1980, said the Savannah Avenue store changed from a grocery store to a hunting a fishing store within a few years of opening.
    "I'm not exactly sure when Hubert and Maize changed the store, but it was Newton's Sport Shop when my family moved here from Pennsylvania in the mid 1950's," she said. "My dad would help Uncle Hubert some times and that is how I got to know the Newtons."
    Newton said Hubert and Mazie Newton reached retirement age and wanted to sell the store at the same time her husband Jack had decided it was time for a career change.
    "Our oldest daughter, J.J. was just three months old when Jack bought the store," Newton said. "This business is all my two children have ever known. It truly is a family business and we have continued operating it that way."
    In 1998, the Newtons moved the store from its original location on Savannah Avenue to its current location on Northside Drive. Even though Susan Newton is now the sole owner of the store, it remains a family affair.
    Newton's son-in-law, Jody Wiggins, is the store's only full-time employee. Newton works during the week for an ophthalmologist in Statesboro and daughter J.J. Newton Wiggins is a radiation tech with East Georgia Regional Hospital. Newton's other daughter, Kim Newton, is a full-time student at Georgia Southern.
    "J.J., Kim, and I, work at the store late in the afternoons and on the weekends," Newton said. "Jody opens up every weekday, and believe me there are people at the door waiting to get in."
    It might surprise some that Newton's busiest time of the year is not during hunting season.
    "Starting in April, we open Monday through Saturday at seven in the morning," Wiggins said. "People are waiting at the door, ready to go fishing."
    Wiggins said fishing season keeps them hopping.
    "From early spring well into the fall, people are serious about their fishing," he said. "We sell bait and tackle from early in the morning until six or so at night. Hooks and bait are probably our biggest selling items."
    Terry Ward, manager of McCorkle Cricket Farm in Metter, said his company has been supplying bait to Newton's for over 30 years.
    "I can tell that J.J., Jody, and Kim are carrying on the business as their dad had run it by providing wonderful customer service," Ward said. "If Jack didn't have it in stock, he would get it for you."
    "Newton's has always been about providing great customer service," he said. "Jack's children and son-in-law have continued with that tradition."
    J.J. Wiggins said it is the level of customer service and genuine friendliness that has enabled her family's namesake to continue to survive and thrive when stiff competition opened in Statesboro three decades ago.
    "We've survived the Wal-marts and Kmarts opening," Wiggins said. "We did that by treating people the way that you would want to be treated. Customers aren't just another number to us."
    Local hunter and fisherman, Hikie Scott, is one of those customers who routinely chooses Newton's over its larger and better known competitors.
    "Wal-mart simply doesn't carry the extensive inventory that Newton's does," Scott said. "Wal-mart has the basics, but they don't really carry the specialty stuff and their staff is not as knowledgeable about hunting and fishing as Jody and J.J. are."
    Scott said if on a rare occasion Newton's doesn't have an item in stock that he needs, they will order it for him.
    "It's pretty rare that Newton's doesn't have what I am looking for, but if they don't, they will get it for me," he said. "They are local people that provide wonderful customer service and their prices are competitive. You can't beat that."
    As she held her two-month-old grandson, Chase Wiggins, Susan Newton said it has been fun to see generations of Statesboro residents grow up and continue to shop at Newton's.
    "I see people bringing their children and grandchildren into the store and I remember when they were just children themselves," Newton said. "They are always happy and excited to come in with their parents and grandparents on their way to go fishing or hunting."