A-B Sporting Goods has anchored the southwest corner of University Avenue and Ray Street for more than fifty years. The store building at 3027 University Avenue was originally constructed in 1916 with two brick ovens, and leased to Merritt Bakery, North Park’s first bakery. The store became the home of A-B Appliance Company in the early 1960s, when Joe Schloss and his father, David Schloss moved there. But this was not their first location in North Park. A Schloss family store has been on University Avenue since 1939, when David started a radio store at 3022 University Avenue. In 1941, David took over A-B Appliance Company and moved it from 3834 30th Street to 3011 University Avenue. In the early 1960s, the store moved to its current location at 3027 University Avenue at the corner with Ray Street. Sporting goods were added to the mix of retail items and to the store name in the late 1960s. After his Navy service in the Pacific during World War II, Joe joined his father at the store, first as a salesman and later the owner, through the decades from years 1946 to 2015. Following the family tradition, Joe’s son Gregg Schloss has been at the store full time since 1982.
Joe Schloss, age 88 and Little League coach for 60 years, died in November 2015, following a brief illness. He will be missed. He learned early to care about his community and was deeply involved in various North Park activities. As businessmen on University Avenue, he and his father enthusiastically participated in the Toyland Parade when the annual event, that started in the 1930s and stopped during World War II, began again in the late 1940s. Inflated balloon figures were part of the 1949 parade, and Joe remembered getting them set up the day before. He also recalled spending long hours decorating University Avenue for many holiday seasons. Some of the best photographs of the 1958 Toyland Parade came from a well preserved set of his color slides. His father David played Santa in the Toyland Parade for nearly two decades, when 300,000 people watched from the sidewalks, and entries included real reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh, camels courtesy of the San Diego Zoo, and equestrians from throughout California and Arizona.
Local organizations, including North Park Little League and North Park Lions Club, benefitted from Joe being a member. As of 2015, Joe had been coaching continuously since the mid-1950s and helped establish North Park Little League in 1957. The northwest ball field at Morley Field was dedicated to him on May 13, 2000—when he had been coaching a mere 45 years—and the sign with his name still hangs proudly on the backstop. May 16, 2015 was declared “Joe Schloss Day,” and a special ceremony was held at Morley Field to honor him. His team and San Diego notables, including the San Diego Chicken, celebrated with him. NBC7 reported that typical for the humble team-player, Joe was overwhelmed and a little embarrassed by the attention, but thrilled to be there. He credited his longevity as a coach to many co-coaches over the decades, and said, “Sixty years have just flown by.”
Joe eagerly shared memories and pictures whenever the North Park Historical Society needed them. He is immortalized on page 126 of the book, Images of America: San Diego’s North Park, which he was proud to show to his many loyal customers. The folding chair in front of the store counter is empty now, but Joe will always be there in our hearts, warmly welcoming us to his corner of North Park.
Although Joe & David Schloss have passed, their legacy lives on through A-B Sporting Goods with Greg, third generation Schloss, at the helm. Located on the corner of Ray Street & University Avenue.