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Salem Sport Shop closing

October 31, 2012
Morning Journal News

SALEM - When John Borrelli grew tired of teaching back in 1970 he opened the Salem Sports Shop and this weekend, after 42 years it will hold a no holds barred close-out sale.

It begins Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., continues on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and concludes Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Salem Sport Shop is on the northwest corner of North Ellsworth Avenue and State Street.

Borrelli, 68, said he is retiring.

After graduating from Bowling Green State University he spent four years in the classroom and coaching basketball at Salem High School but it wasn't enough for Borrelli, a 1962 SHS grad who still holds the school record for most basketball points scored in a quarter.

He saw an opening in the local market and "I decided to try it," he said Tuesday, explaining that the other sports store in town focused on bowling, golf and "didn't get into the school stuff that much ... like uniforms.

"Anyway, I decided to try it, nobody was doing it in our area. The closest was Youngstown for garments, team wear and athletic equipment."

Borrelli added, "There was really a niche for that around here at that time ... Columbiana, West Branch and you had to go to Youngstown ... we got a lot of business from West Branch over the years... we did it at the right time."

A few people saw what Borrelli was doing and more sports stores opened. At one time there were six, he recalled. Competition was tough.

"Another thing for us, " he said, "we were doing real well with leather (sleeved) and wool school jackets ... that's what really helped our business, especially around Christmas. We did the "Swiss" embroidering here.

"We also offered new stuff like uniforms and we did quite a job selling shoes for basically your main sports."

Besides top service from the full- and part-time employees, Borrelli said keeping longer hours helped a lot when he started.

The store stayed open until eight and nine o'clock.

"You didn't have to drive all the way to Boardman after dinner," he explained. "We were always open."

Borrelli also traveled to schools when coaches called for uniforms or athletic shoes.

"Yeah, the service," Borrelli said, "you can't mess that up, especially uniforms, we never messed those up. So we were dealing with wholesale volume at the retail level."

He also kept a close eye on leagues, standings and when a team went deep into the playoffs the silk-screening machine heated up with the appropriate T-shirt.

"We were actively involved with the schools," he said.

Today Walmart, Dollar General and other mass merchandisers zero in on the local sports front.

His sister Connie and people like Pat Morelli have been invaluable over the years and this weekend will feature close-outs with up to 75 percent off.

Jackets, nylon and wool and leather-sleeved in different colors, baseball, basketball and football equipment along with shorts, shoes and socks all on sale.

Larry Shields can be reached at



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