Lacrosse has gained increased prominence and visibility in a country long dominated by the big four: baseball, football, basketball and hockey. Sachem has long been recognized as a devoted lacrosse community, and Olympic Den Sporting Goods has capitalized on the sports ever-growing popularity.
Olympic Den East of Ronkonkoma has served the community for over seven years and specializes in lacrosse equipment and clothing. While they do also carry gear for other sports, the bulk to the company's business comes from LAX.
"I would say 95 percent of our business is lacrosse," said John Elarde, who now owns and operates two Olympic Den locations. "A good portion of that is from outside sales, meaning team sales which include jerseys and helmets. We also do a tremendous amount of restringing too."
Expediently located at 290 Portion Rd, Ronkonkoma, NY 11779, in the Lakeshore Commons shopping center along with Giunta's Meat Farms, Olympic Den East is the younger of the company's two stores. The first store was opened in the Nassau County hamlet of Elmont in 1976, and has since moved to Franklin Square. A portion of the Olympic Den's earnings also come from online orders through the company's Website.
Some of the inventory includes lacrosse sticks, jerseys, gloves, helmets and other protective gear, socks, and shirts. Outside of lacrosse exclusive territory, the store sells footballs, soccer balls, plastic baseball bats and wrestling gear. Olympic Den also carries personalized team hoodies for Long Island schools such as Sachem, Connetquot, Patchogue-Medford, Eastport-South Manor and Three Village. The store offers embroidery and garners a great deal of its revenue through its work with youth organizations and teams.
"The embroidery part, we do a lot of stuff for coaches and teams," said Elarde who resides in Commack and grew up in Baldwin. "If a coach wants three or four shirts done we have the facility here where we can do that. We also get a lot of walk-ins from people who just want things embroidered."
The bulk of the store's business comes from youth leagues, those made up of children 12 and under, and they offer reasonably priced starter packages for new athletes looking to break into the game. They also deal with many high school and college students, who come in looking for new equipment or to have their own sticks restrung.
Elarde is a father of two, and his grandchildren now play lacrosse. He has always been involved with sports for his entire life, whether it was playing baseball or football as a child or running his business for the last 34 years. Elarde recognizes the reputation Sachem holds as a lacrosse community, which was part of the reason he chose to expand his business into Suffolk County.
"When we came out here seven years ago, there was really only one other store in the area that specialized in lacrosse," said Elarde, who employees a small staff of five workers at the Ronkonkoma location. "We do a lot with Sachem's parent club. We sell a lot of sweatshirts, shorts, stuff like that to the parent club and in turn they sell it to the parents of the organization. So, Sachem has been good to us."