Lemman family brings back Jones Sports Company to fond reception

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Matt Lemman, left, and his brother Tim hold the new version of the Jones Golf Bag. The Lake Oswego family wants the item to regain its status as the golf bag of choice for golfers in the Portland area.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the Jones Golf Bag was everywhere.

The golf bag designed by Lake Oswego resident George Jones in his spare time caught on so strongly that it became the most recognized in the industry. The stylish bag was practically ubiquitous.

But due to changing times and corporation competition, the Jones bag was fading, fading and almost gone until three years ago. Jones sold his company and his successor offered a “Me Too” golf bag that failed to find favor.

That is when the Lemman family stepped in — dad Dean and sons Matt and Tim. Where others saw oblivion, the Lemmans saw opportunity.

“When the chance came to buy the Jones Sports Company, I thought it was a good opportunity for myself and my sons,” Dean said, although he noted, “There’s a lot of competition. We’re a small guy in a big box business.”

However, the Lemman company has found that it wasn’t just them who missed the Jones bag. They found that many other golfers in Oregon had fond memories of carrying around Jones bags when they were young. Now the Lemmans’ factory on 72nd Avenue, near Bridgeport Village, is turning out the distinctive bag in big numbers, and they are experiencing an exciting rise in business. As far as the Jones Golf Bag is concerned, the Lemmans are bringing back the good old days.

“The Jones bag has a built-in customer base and a built-in recognition base,” Dean said. “With the Jones bag we had a distinct advantage.”

One of the Lemmans’ distinct advantages was nostalgia. Dean got his first Jones Golf Bag back in the 1980s then later passed it on to Matt. As the Lemmans re-introduced the golf bag, they heard similar stories from potential customers.

“A lot of golfers in their 40s all carried the Jones Golf Bag,” Tim said. “They tell us ‘Oh yeah! I carried it in high school.’ They didn’t know the company had been out of business. Now we’ve brought it back with all original designs.”

Another advantage is price. The Lemmans offer their standing bags for $200 and the originally Jones designed bag for the price of $139. The combination of fond memories and friendly prices have allowed sales to boom for the Jones Sports.

“This bag was missed,” Matt said. “There was nothing that substituted for it. It has been exciting to bring it back.”

The company has doubled in size every year. The Jones bag is not back to being the bag of choice yet, but the Lemmans are working on it. There are now 250 pro shops that carry the Jones bag, six stores offer the bag, and the website is doing a busy business. The Lemmans are now pushing for the big box stores to carry their bags.

“Eighty percent of our market is older golfers,” Tim said. “We’re trying to get the younger guys, too. We have sites on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.”

The Jones Sports Company is very Lake Oswego oriented, since both brothers now live in Lake Oswego, and Dean Lemman grew up here and became a golf lover here.

“Back then just about everyone who golfed carried the Jones bag,” Dean said.

With the rejuvenated Jones Sports Company, that might happen again.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Tim, left, and Matt Lemman show the high tech embroidering machiner used to label the famous Jones Golf Bag at their shop at Bridgeport Village.

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