January 23, 2011

The Bottom Line: Maine-based chain scores big points with small-town stores

Olympia Sports keeps a low profile, yet it has 185 locations.

By J. Hemmerdinger jhemmerdinger@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Wendy Levasseur sorts T-shirts at Olympia Sports’ distribution center in Westbrook. Olympia ships an average of 4,000 boxes to stores each day.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Kevin Kennie moves boxes at the Olympia Sports distribution center in Westbrook. The company employs about 2,000 people throughout the Northeast.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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HISTORY: Olympia Sports was launched in 1975 when Munjoy Hill native and former math teacher Edward Manganello opened a 2,700-square-foot store in what was then a new Maine Mall. 1998, the company operated 50 stores. Today, Olympia runs 185 locations in eight Northeast states.


EXECUTIVES: The company is run by President Dick Coffey of Windham, who is known for a reserved leadership style. Manganello is chairman and CEO.

WORTH NOTING: In 2000, Manganello launched the nonprofit Olympia Sports Foundation, which allows Olympia Sports to donate a percentage of profits to charitable projects, according to the Olympia website. The foundation's first project was a clothing bank at the Westbrook office.

FINANCIALS: Olympia's yearly revenue is roughly $180 million and has increased in each of the two years following the 2008 recession.

Larry Weindruch, a director at the National Sporting Goods Association, said Olympia's reserved style isn't unique.

"A lot of privately held companies prefer to keep their head down and stick to business," he said. "A lot of it trickles down from the leadership style."

But not all private sports retailers are so private, said Weindruch. Take Modell's Sporting Goods, for instance, a New York City-based company that operates 140 retail sports stores.

"They do a ton of advertising and a lot of promotion," he said of Modell's. "They are the opposite of these reticent or modest companies. It's two different approaches."

Weindruch can't speculate on Olympia's financial health because the numbers are private, but he said the company is regarded in the industry as "a strong regional sporting goods chain."

Olympia competes with other big-name sports stores, including Dick's Sporting Goods, Sports Authority and Foot Locker, which owns Champs Sports.

Unlike many competitors, Olympia doesn't sell camping, hunting or fishing gear, some of the industry's largest segments.

Instead, Olympia focuses on footwear and equipment for such team sports as soccer, basketball, football and baseball.

And like nearly all retailers, Olympia contends with Walmart, which Coffey said sells more sporting goods than any retailer in the world.

But Coffey said Olympia differentiates itself from Walmart with trained staff and high-quality products.

"If you want the cheapest basketball, you will go there. But if you want more options and customer service and knowledge, then you come to us," he said. 

Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or: jhemmerdinger@mainetoday.com


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Additional Photos

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"If you have a young family with a bunch of athletes, we like to think we carry the stuff you are looking for," said Olympia Sports President Dick Coffey.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


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