Our quick scan of Olympia’s digital presence: At the top of Olympia’s website in mid-March is a 40-50% off footwear promo with Asics, Under Armour, Nike and New Balance featured. Baseball equipment is promoted, some at up to 70% off. Web visitors are directed to a blog for “knowledge nuggets” and online gift card purchase options are featured. Social media accounts highlight product discounts and in-store athlete appearances.
We visited the Olympia Sports store in Bridgewater, MA. Top takeaways: Associate greets us as we enter. A “Buy 1, Get One 50% Off” footwear sale is underway. Standout brands in the store are Nike and Under Armour. Rear wall has Louisville Slugger and Easton baseball bats, buckets of Rawlings baseballs and scorebooks. At store’s front are pro licensed products, from Super Bowl coffee bags to Boston Celtics Fatheads. Brands catching our eye throughout the store: Shock Doctor, Spalding, Adidas, 47 Brand, McDavid, Easton, Sof Sole, Rawlings, Champion, Franklin, Soffe and Bearpaw. Avalanche and Artix apparel labels are on clearance on this first day of spring. Other in-store sales include “Buy 1, Get One 50% Off” Under Armour apparel and “Buy 1, Get One 70% Off” Champion apparel.
The Rundown: Olympia operates approximately 160 locations in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio after closing approximately 15 stores this fiscal year due to expiring leases. Most doors average 4,000- to 6,000-sq. ft. Less than 20 percent of the stores are in malls. Nimbleness, efficiency and hometown “customer service” are three key attributes of the chain, which will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2020.
Background: Founded in 1975 in The Maine Mall, Portland, ME. For the most part, Olympia avoids major metropolitan areas in favor of smaller spaces in strip centers where the four walls are “more efficient” and face less competition from big boxes. Besides its Maine flagship, Olympia also operates a high-profile store in downtown Boston and at Patriot Place, the retail center adjacent to Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots.
Strategy: Olympia’s team tells us that they will continue to localize assortments to best serve its smaller market strategy while focusing on the target consumer that drives the majority of sales in each market. The retailer plans to freshen up some existing doors by Back-to-School 2019 with new fixturing, signage/Point-of-Purchase and a new product floor set.
Major 2018 Developments: Olympia began testing an assortment of smaller brands while continuing to maximize opportunities with its existing brand partners. The retailer also continued growing its website presence at olympiasports.net. Olympia worked with a digital marketing agency to develop a segmentation strategy and a focus on both social and digital marketing. Olympia has moved some investments from traditional marketing to social and digital to help attract new customers, but the company is still working on finding the proper balance between reaching existing customers and attracting new ones.
E-commerce: Olympia’s longstanding Get It program allows a customer to order an item that is out-of-stock in their local store and have it directly shipped to his or her home. New to the program are in-store tablets to show customers additional colors and styles available at other locations using the website. Some inventory is sold exclusively on its website where some vendors drop-ship customer orders. That vendor initiative will be expanded in 2019.
Private Label: Olympia does not source its own private label products, instead opting to work with key price-point-vendors to offer entry-priced products largely in T-shirts, winter apparel and seasonal items.
Rah, Rah: All stores offer team discount packages each season with store managers working with local leagues and coaches. Olympia provides coaches with a packet of coupons for players that are valid for the entire season. The chain also offers seasonal “kits” – bundling a specific cleat, ball and shin guard in a specially-priced soccer package, for example.
The Extra Mile: “Our customers are greeted within 30 seconds of entering the door and are made to feel very welcome,” says Carlene Kurowski, marketing director for Olympia. “And they are going to leave with the feeling that whatever they purchased is the right thing for them. With our (associates) knowledge, we are instilling confidence in those purchases are customers are making.”