Shop Local: Sport Connection Scores Niche

SALEM, Ohio – Trying to get wrestling equipment for her son and school jackets for her son and daughter spurred Diana Brown to open Sport Connection, a sporting goods, clothing and accessories store at 2789 E. State St. in Salem.

“It started out with something as simple as wrestling kneepads. There was no place in Salem that sold them,” she says. “I went all over the mall in Boardman, went to Canton.”

After finally resorting to ordering online, Brown decided she should be able to buy something that simple in Salem.

Then there were the team jackets. When she was in school, everybody wore the red jackets with the Salem Quakers name and logo on the back. When her own kids approached that age, she found that nobody made them anymore because they were, as she put it, “too much trouble.”

Brown seized the opportunity. She now has the only store in the area that sells and adorns varsity jackets, and her store has “gold status” with its supplier “because we move more varsity coats than anybody,” she says.

Brown opened her store 13 years ago. “We made it through 2008 and 2009 when the economy was bad,” she says. “And we’re still here and still going strong.”

Sport Connection provides a full range of printing, embroidery and dye sublimation services, Brown says. Its customer base stretches beyond Columbiana County, extending to Boardman, Girard, Liberty and Alliance, she says.

“We cover quite a wide range because all of our stuff is customizable. You can get exactly what you want and it doesn’t take weeks,” Brown says. “We usually put stuff out the same day or the next day.”

In addition to merchandise embellished with school logos, the shop provides services for businesses, she points out. It is able to fill large orders, as well as accommodate a customer who returns and requests additional copies of any item, “We have the ability to make one or two pieces here and take care of that person,” Brown says.

She points to her store’s reputation for dealing one-on-one with each customer. “When you’re online, you’re on your own,” she says.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.