After 46-year run, Olympia Sports to close its doors

·2 min read

Jul. 22—Maine-based sports retailer Olympia Sports, recently acquired by a private equity firm, will be closing all its stores by the end of September.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed that all 35 stores would be closing by the end of September and that all stores have already started liquidation sales. The spokesperson said she did not know the total number of employees who would be affected.

Olympia Sports was founded in 1975 by Edward Manganello, a native of Munjoy Hill in Portland and former math teacher at Bonny Eagle High School in Standish. He opened the first store in the Maine Mall in South Portland, selling footwear, sports equipment and clothing. By 2013, the company operated 226 locations from Maine to Virginia and was planning to expand by 20 stores per year.

In 2019, there were 150 stores, when Denver-based running and active lifestyle brand JackRabbit bought the company. At the time, then-President Ed Manganello (the founder's son) told News Center Maine "We look forward to transitioning Olympia to the JackRabbit family and believe they will be outstanding stewards of the Olympia brand."

Eight stores in Maine were among the 76 that closed as a result of the deal. JackRabbit had been acquired in 2017 by California-based private equity firm CriticalPoint Capital, which specializes in "corporate divestitures, companies in a state of transition, and special situations," according to its website. CriticalPoint also bought Shoes.com from Walmart in October 2020. JackRabbit, Olympia Sports and Shoes.Com were grouped under the Denver-based platform "Running Specialty Group," which later changed its name to Antero Brands. In December 2021, CriticalPoint sold Jack Rabbit to North-Carolina running footwear company Fleet Feet.

Calls and messages to Antero Brands/Olympia Sports CEO Mark Coffey and CriticalPoint were not returned Friday afternoon.

Employees reached at multiple stores were distraught by the news but did not want to be identified because they feared losing their jobs early. At stores in Berlin, Vermont, Potsdam, New York, Foxborough, Massachusetts, and Rockland, Presque Isle and South Portland in Maine, employees all confirmed their stores were closing and were holding liquidation sales.

"It is kind of sensitive for a lot of the store managers," said a Massachusetts store manager who did not want to give her name. "A lot of people have been here for 30 plus years. A lot of people, they've never worked anywhere else. We only found out on Monday morning, and we're already running the closing sale ... It's still kind of sensitive and raw for a lot of people."

This story will be updated.