Olympia Sports continues southern expansion

Dick’s Sporting Goods isn’t the only rapidly growing sporting goods chain based in the Northeast.

Lesser know Olympia Sports based in Westbrook, Maine, recently surpassed its 200th location and has begun a march south and west from its home state. The company plans to open 25 stores during its current fiscal year, including its first store in West Virginia and others in states south of New York. A similar pace of expansion is expected for the following fiscal year beginning in October.

Most of Olympia’s 207 stores are located in the far Northeastern markets of Maine (29 stores), Massachusetts (61 stores), New York (47 stores), New Hampshire (21 stores), Vermont (11 stores), Connecticut (14 stores) and Rhode Island (five stores). However, in recent years, the company has extended its reach to Pennsylvania (14 stores), Maryland (three stores) and Virginia and West Virginia, which both have one store.

“We are excited about the opportunities that exist in this region,” said Olympia president Ed Manganello referring to areas south of the Pennsylvania border. “We are primarily a small market retailer, and our format, our people, and our strategy of bringing top brands to these small markets has gained acceptance in these areas.”

Olympia Sports is a little like the Hibbett Sporting Goods of the Northeast in that both chains operate small format stores in small markets with a product assortment focused on brand name athletic apparel and footwear, complemented by a limited offering of sporting goods equipment. Hibbett operates more than 800 stores primarily in small southeastern markets where it avoids competition from the likes of Dick’s Sporting Goods, while offering a superior assortment of branded goods than shoppers will find at Walmart.

Olympia expects to end its current fiscal year on September 30 with a total of 216 stores following the addition of 25 new stores and the closing of four underperforming locations.

“We expect similar growth in fiscal 2013,” said Paul Fitzpatrick, senior director of operations. “We have the real estate strategy and infrastructure to support continued growth throughout the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic.”