Glory Hole Sports in Angels Camp, a Calaveras County landmark to some, is closing its doors permanently in August after 38 years in business.
Current owners Gene and Dawn Hildebrand, who purchased the business in 2016, have taken to social media and posted signs at their business to let people know they are “deeply disappointed” to be closing the iconic tackle shop, gas station, and convenience store.
The owners had decided to sell Glory Hole Sports after their five-year lease expired, despite staying busy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was based on numerous factors, including the Hildebrands’ own health concerns and wanting to retire.
The couple listed the business in 2020 and have had three different sales fall through over nearly two years. They blame what they perceive to be an “unreasonable” lease agreement for the property, which is owned by Dan Pinnell, owner of Glory Hole Center LLC.
Mr. Pinnell was unable to be reached for comment.
According to the Hildebrands, the lease agreement requires the new tenant to sign for five years and does not offer any guarantee of maintaining the gas station after 2025. This, in addition to a rent increase “in excess of 70%” caused potential buyers to withdraw offers,” say the Hildebrands. The five-year lease is not enough for their buyers to secure a small business loan, claim the owners.
Brett Sargent of Sunbelt Business Brokerage of Sacramento and Reno was the Hildebrand’s broker for their attempted sale of the business. Sargent stated, “We had brought (three) buyers to the table and we were unsuccessful in negotiating a mutually agreed upon lease between the buyers and the landlord.”
Sargent also stated that Glory Hole Sports was “a very good business and drove close to 100 leads” for potential buyers; however, “the terms offered would not be acceptable for practically any buyers and would not substantiate SBA financing.”
On Facebook, the business posted a letter to their customers explaining the closure. They wrote, “These lease terms provided by the landlords to buyers in our opinion and that of our business broker, killed off any chance of us selling GHS and allowing her to continue 38+ years of operation. At this time our broker deemed GHS ‘unsellable due to lease terms’ and cancelled our listing.”
The situation is further complicated by the fact that the gas station currently has only underground gas tanks, which will need to be replaced with above-ground tanks prior to the end of 2025 in compliance with Senate Bill 445, which went into effectin 2014. The law states, “the owner or operator must permanently close a UST if it was designed and constructed before January 1, 1984 and does not meet the requirements of H&SC, section 25291(a)(1)-(6) or if it was designed and constructed before January 1, 1997 in accordance with H&SC, section 25291(a)(7).”
According to the Hildebrands, the estimated cost for this job would be over $1,000,000, and without it, the gas station will not be able to legally operate after Dec. 31, 2025. The Pinnells were given a quote for the job, say the Hildebrands, but have not committed to the required upgrades.
A newsletter printed by Dawn Hildebrand tells the story of the couple’s “heartbreak” over deciding to close. In it, Hildebrand writes, “The closure of Glory Hole Sports is NOT due to any Covid-19 fallout, economy issues or even about New Melones lake water being low. She’s simply closing because the landlord’s refusal to be reasonable regarding any lease terms that all of our three buyers required.”
Hildebrand stated, “We really just want the community to know we’re devastated. We never intended it to close on our watch.”
The busy “one-stop shop” at Highway 49 and Whittle Road (which leads to Glory Hole Recreation Area on New Melones lake) will close its doors permanently on August 20. The couple will be busy until then selling whatever they can and clearing out the space, taking down the many fishing photos customers had contributed over the years that hung on their walls. Customers continue stopping in for gas and to browse the dwindling inventory, and claim photos of themselves or loved ones from the wall.
At the end of August, the Hildebrands will walk away with whatever merchandise they don’t manage to sell, and the memories made over their six years as owners of Glory Hole Sports.