LIMA — Warren C. Parmenter, who operated Lima’s Superior Sporting Goods store for more than three decades, was a member of the third generation of a prominent Lima family that, according to one account, very nearly did not become a Lima family, or, according to another, became one only because of a missed connection.
In one story, Warren Parmenter’s grandfather, Cornelius Parmenter, lured to Lima by talk of the town’s bright future, hopped off a train in 1854, beheld the miserable mudhole the city was after a heavy rain, and immediately looked to hop on the next train out of town. Despite the second thoughts prompted by that first impression, the 23-year-old native of New York state stayed because, according to the story, he had a change of heart during a lengthy wait for an outbound train.
In the other account, contained in Cornelius Parmenter’s obituary, Parmenter was bound from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Canton when the train stopped in Lima for an overnight stay because, according to the story, “animals and marauders would attack the train in the dark of night.” The following morning, while Cornelius Parmenter was eating breakfast, the train left without him. “During the day he called on a little shop and learned they were in need of a printer so he went to work and Lima became his home.”
For whatever reason he put down roots, by the time Cornelius Parmenter died in 1906 after being run down on West High Street by a boy on a bicycle chasing a fire engine, he had become a successful editor, publisher and printer, and had served as postmaster. He had also fathered 11 children with the former Mary Elizabeth Boyer.
Three of Cornelius Parmenter’s sons followed their father’s footsteps into the printing business, but William L. Parmenter, Warren Parmenter’s father, took a different path. Born in Lima in 1867, William Parmenter was graduated from Lima High School and the University of Michigan law school. In addition to working as an attorney in Lima for more than 30 years, he also owned oil properties in Ohio and Oklahoma. He married the former Harriett Crippen and they had two children, Mary and Warren.
Warren Parmenter, born in 1895, followed his father’s footsteps through Lima High School and the University of Michigan, graduating in 1921 with a bachelor’s degree. In 1922, he married Francis Defnet, of Michigan, and the couple soon settled in Oklahoma, where Warren worked in the oil business.
By December 1926, two months after the death of his father, Warren Parmenter had returned to Lima. A Dec. 4, 1926, ad in The Lima News noted that “Warren C. Parmenter is manager of the local Fuller Brush agency which maintains offices at 1556 W. High St.” The High Street address was also Warren Parmenter’s home address. The 1927 edition of the Lima City Directory lists him as manager of the X-Ray Mirror Co.
That same year Warren Parmenter bought the business he would operate for the next three decades. On July 1, 1927, the News reported, “Sale of the Lima Sporting Goods Co. to Warren Parmenter was made during the past week ….”
The company Parmenter bought, Lima Sporting Goods, had been around since 1921 when it succeeded the H.H. Starrett Co., which was located at 118 W. High St. in the Faurot Opera House block. The 1918 City Director lists the H.H. Starrett Co. as selling sporting goods and photographic supplies.
After Lima Sporting Goods bought out H.H. Starrett in 1921, the shop made the first of many moves around the downtown area, relocating to 218 W. Market St. In 1926, it was moved to 308-310 W. Market St.
On July 6, 1927, Lima Sporting Goods got a new name along with its new owner. “Articles of incorporation were filed Wednesday with the secretary of state by the Lima Superior Sporting Goods Inc., for $10,000,” the News noted. “The business was acquired recently by Parmenter from the Lima Trust Co. Headquarters will be maintained in the same location on West Market Street.” Among the incorporators were Warren Parmenter and Leslie Reid, who had married Warren Parmenter’s sister, Mary.
“This newly purchased store is being entirely redecorated, and, following the discount sale just closed, is being furnished with a complete line of new and up-to-date sporting goods,” the News wrote July 10, 1927. “With formal opening set for Tuesday, it is believed that Lima sportsmen will be more than pleased to choose their needs at this store.”
Although the store would not maintain headquarters at 218 W. Market St. for long — in fact it would move a handful of times over the next three decades — it met the needs of Lima sportsmen for more than just golf balls and baseball gloves.
The store often served as a place for league organizational meetings of baseball and basketball leagues, and as a ticket outlet for local sporting event, notably the annual South-Central football game held at Lima Stadium annually around Thanksgiving. In the wake of World War II, the game drew big crowds. On Nov. 4, 1946, the News reported 9,000 tickets were sold. “Both downtown locations (where tickets were sold), the B.F. Repp Co. and the Superior Sporting Goods, reported a lineup waiting when they opened their doors in the morning. The lines, at times, extended for more than a block,” the News wrote.
During the war, the store was one of the collection points for hunting knives being collected for Ohio soldiers, who, the News wrote in May 1943, “are under constant threat of being ambushed by Japanese jungle fighters.” Superior also sponsored sporting events and donated trophies, including one for the best marksman on the Lima Police Department.
When the Allen County Sportsmen’s League put on “best story” or “liar’s” contest for local fishermen in August 1934, the News reported that “the fisherman who relates the ‘wildest’ yarn will receive a four-inch, gold-plated fish, a donation of Superior Sporting Goods Co. …”
In January 1953, Superior, which had returned to its roots in the Faurot Opera House Block in 1937, found itself again on the move when the landmark was razed. The store moved first to 329 N. Main St. before settling in at 218 W. High St. in September 1953.
After more than three decades in business, Warren Parmenter sold the store to Jim Phillips in October 1958. In January 1962, Phillips Sporting Goods went out of business.
Warren Parmenter died in November 1976. His wife, Frances, had died in January 1975.
Reach Greg Hoersten at email@example.com.