‘It was exciting to see and manage that growth’

Meet the Owls Head man who helped fuel the growth of Olympia Sports

Sat, 10/19/2019 - 5:45pm

WINDHAM — Richard “Dick” Coffey is a local man, though some people may not recall the name. While they may not recall the name, locals — especially with sports ties — know the company he helped grow into a major player within the sports apparel world. 

Coffey, now a Windham resident, grew up in Owls Head and later became the president of Olympia Sports, perhaps Maine’s most recognizable sporting goods store. 

Nearly right after earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Maine, Coffey joined Olympia Sports in 1975 when the company had one location at the Maine Mall in South Portland, and had been open two months. 

When joining Olympia Sports, Coffey did not envision he would one day lead the company as president.

In fact, he said when he joined the company he thought it would be fun to work at Olympia Sports and would allow him time to find another job. 

After a few months of working at Olympia Sports, the owners began talking about opening another location and Coffey saw the opportunity for his personal growth within the company. 

“I opened that store and ran it,” he said of the company’s second location. “ I soon also started buying some of the products for both stores.” 

As an Olympia Sports employee for 35 years before his retirement, Coffey worked in nearly every capacity of the company including general merchandise manager and buyer. 

“I really liked buying and figuring out what would sell,” Coffey said. “I was soon buying everything and as we grow I grew to be merchandise manager with all buyers reporting to me.”

In 2000, Coffey was appointed as the company’s president, a role he held until 2011. 

“During the time I was president we were growing quickly and adding many stores every year,” said Coffey. “It was exciting to see and manage that growth. I had great people working for me which was key to our growth and making the job fun.”

In 2011, owner Ed Manganello asked Coffey if Coffey was ready to transition to a position on the Board of Directors and step back a little. 

Coffey agreed to the move which saw Coffey continue to consult on future locations, something Coffey had done repeatedly through his more than three decades with the company. 

Much about the future of the company after its sale to fellow sports apparel store JackRabbit is, as Coffey noted, inaccurate. 

“As far as the stores that are closing in Maine the [information] out there that I’ve seen is wrong,” said Coffey. “More stores are staying open [than] reported.” 

WGME reported late Oct. 9 some employees said approximately 20 stores within the state would shutter, leaving only four locations at the Maine Mall and in Auburn, Waterville and Falmouth. 

Olympia Sports has 150 stores across the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest, according to the Bangor Daily News. 

For the stores that do close, Coffey said going out of business sales will begin in November.

Reach George Harvey at: sports@penbaypilot.com