By Bruce Sayler
The road has meandered a bit and the destination hasn’t always been defined, but a Butte man said he thinks his venture into entrepreneurship might now be the answer. Focus has cleared.
John Robbins, owner of the buttesports.com media site, is adjoining it with Moon Shot Athletics, a clothing and accessories business, for a sports-area market entry. The idea is driven by both his own love for sports and as a kind of a memorial to Robbins’ late father.”
“My dad always told me he thought I should find something to do in sports (for a career),” said Robbins, who is also involved in coaching.
Robbins was one of the sports hobbyists of his generation, knowing the players, the teams, the stats, the jerseys – all of it was consuming as an interest. He writes for his buttesports.com Website he has owned for a little more than a year now after acquiring it from well-known Butte media business owners Ron and Shelly Davis.
Moon Shot Athletics has been an entity since last summer and has grown into a new address. Robbins and his wife, Kaleigh, handle the duties now with representative help from two sales associates.
“I think I’m close to doing something that my dad might’ve had in mind that suits that sports career path and think he would be very proud.” Robbins said.
Randy Robbins had a career in sales, too, before Covid-19 took him in November of 2021, just weeks before his son stepped into the buttesports.com proprietorship, John Robbins said.
Butttesports.com is a game reporting business focusing on high school athletics in Butte with also interest in Montana Tech sports and club sports. It was started by the Davises in 2012 and, with Bill Foley managing it as the editor, served readers as a newspaper-style roundup of sports events. Robbins has continued its mission since taking the site over.
Moon Shot Athletics began when Robbins became interested in designing and producing softball jerseys, he said. The efforts were well-received.
The line has expanded into tee shirts, sweat shirts, hats, pants, etc. Cups and stickers are also available and Robbins said he is certainly open to customer and reader suggestions.
“I’m looking at going into business apparel, too,” he said, talking of logo clothing for staffs of businesses.
The Robbinses have bought and upgraded the technology and programming necessary to create the products. Customer response has been solid enough, John Robbins said, that the workplace has gone from the home to a building on Front Street. A new site, located at 2945 Bayard, will be moved into just after the New Year and an international website for Moon Shot Athletics is being launched on January 16, Robbins said.
He said hopes are for the Bayard Street location to have store hours by summer with on-the-shelf merchandise available. In the meantime, business is by appointment-only and contact can be made by email@example.com, Robbins said.
The technology and techniques have been learned through self-teaching and classes and presentations. The education is continuous. Much of the product is born from customer suggestions and requests, Robbins said. He said the buyers seem to have a particular taste for what they are seeking.
“Customizing is what our specialty is,” he said. “I’ve even had people come to me with stick figures drawn on a piece of paper and ask me to design something from it.
“I like the working with the people on the designs, working with their ideas and suggestions and coming up with something for them. The designs seem to be what people enjoy. The main part of the business is customized.”
Robbins said he not only welcomes design suggestions from the public, but encourages them.
He has worked with Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator programs for the creations and owns the accompanying equipment needed for production. It has kept the family busy as both John and Kaleigh work other fulltime jobs and they parent their two young sons. John Robbins is a sales rep for Lincare in addition to running both buttesports.com and Moon Shot Athletics. “A lot of late nights and weekends were used watching YouTube and taking Adobe courses working this whenever I had the extra time. I sent Brandon countless mocks at 4 am sometimes.” Robbins said.
He said the initial delving into producing the softball jerseys gained him a good amount of Facebook page followers and interest has “exploded” since the early summer attempt.
“And, it’s been mostly word-of-mouth,” he said.
Individual sales or team packages are available through contact and Robbins is planning order forms for both on the website.
One customer picked up an order of traveling basketball league team jerseys from Robbins on Friday just prior to the interview for this article.
Jake Larson and Brandon West represent Moon Shot Athletics in sales as player reps and can also be contacted to order product, Robbins said. He added that West came up with the Moon Shot Athletics name for the business after changing it from Headframe Athletics and is a longtime friend of Robbins. Larson is an active Butte sports figure and former standout prep and college athlete. “Jake and Brandon have been great I’ve played softball with Brandon for many moons and he is our fashion guy a lot of the early designs were from his brain” said Robbins. Jake is a guy that everyone in town knows and he has been here to help me since day one Jake is a really big advocate for Moon Shot.”
“I can’t reiterate enough that I can’t do this alone,” Robbins said. “I’ve gotten help and am getting help from a lot of people. You know how Butte is, always willing to help.”
He said buttesports.com is sharing office space with Moon Shot Athletics and will continue to do so when Robbins moves the businesses to the Bayard Street location on January 10. He said he still enjoys the photographing and writing work he performs with buttesports.com, which gets him to the games to interact with the Butte sports community. Veteran sportswriter Bruce Sayler assists with buttesports.com reporting as does Logan Parvinen.
“I think this is a really fulfilling career path,” Robbins said. “Being able to share my designs and seeing people wearing them and them being happy with the designs is all really fulfilling. It is a cool feeling.”