Although Gene Lockwood's has gone through many changes over the years, it still operates as a family business, owned by Marty and Kim Ward with their son Cody Ward, as the general manager.
Cody Ward started working for the store at a young age, making his way up from working the floor to assistant manager, then manager and now to general manager in Hot Springs.
"We've really just evolved over the years," Cody Ward said. "I believe in the start, it was more like sporting goods, baseball plus football, golf, canoeing, then went into guns, hunting and now we're more so of like a clothing, lifestyle store, I guess would be the best way to describe it."
The store now offers name-brand clothing and shoes, including Columbia, North Face, Nativ, Patagonia, Southern Marsh, Southern Tide, Southern Trend, Southern Shirt, Vineyard Vines, Costa, LivyLu, Free People, Life is Good, Stated Outfitters, Old Guard Outfitters, Mountain Hardwear, Billabong, Huk, Under Armour UGG and Burlero. Top brand shoes include Birkenstock, Chaco, Toms, Hunter, Sanuk, Teva, Vintage Havana, Salomon, Sorel, Muck, Olukai, UGG, Crocs and Merrell.
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Although the store is no longer a true hunting and fishing store, it still carries sporting goods and outdoor accessories.
One thing about the store that hasn't changed is the way it prides itself on its excellent customer service, Cody Ward said.
"As soon as you walk in, you're gonna be waited on," he said. "Somebody's gonna say 'Hello' to you. ... We can help you find something or, you know, if you're just looking, we're not gonna used car salesman you to death. We're not gonna hover."
Founded in 1955 by Eugene Lockwood, the business started as a sporting goods department store in Little Rock, according to The Sentinel-Record special supplement "Family Owned Business." In the early 1960s, a store was opened in Hot Springs in the old Cook's building, where it remained until 2007. It then moved to its current location at 1328 Albert Pike Road.
"My father started working for (Lockwood) in the early 1980s, and it passed along to him," Cody Ward said. "And I've worked here since 2007. I started in the Little Rock location, and I moved down here in 2019.
"I was in the ninth grade, and I was working Christmases only pretty much through high school, and that was always real intimidating. But, it really taught me how to work with the general public and work with customers.
"We have a lot of great customers from Louisiana, Texas, we even have a few from California, so I like the variety of people and just helping everyone down here."
After playing college baseball for a year, Cody Ward decided to work for the business full-time and has been there ever since.
"I have wonderful people that work for me," he said. "I have a wonderful manager named Calie, who's awesome, makes my life so much easier. And I love the customers down here. They're really great."
Keeping customers happy is one of Cody Ward's goals as the general manager of the Hot Springs location, he said. The store continuously stocks with new items throughout the year.
"I want to continue to make our customers happy and just keep this in business as long as we can and stay successful," he said.