Showcase Sports’ new location a hit
For 27 years, Ron Silipino owned four Hometown Video stores in South Jersey. A chance encounter in an elevator in Florida, however, reset the course of his life.
Silipino was attending a showcase tournament to watch his eldest daughter, Alyssa, play softball.
“There was a company called Tanel Cleats that was staying at our hotel, and they were also a vendor at the tournament. Our team was one of the more elite teams playing there, and they wanted our girls to wear their cleats to promote their product,” Silipino said.
According to Silipino, the players were enamored with the cleats, which gave him an idea. While riding an elevator together, Silipino inquired of the company’s owner as to where the cleats could be purchased, but they were only available online.
“I said, ‘would you be interested in having somebody sell them for you?’” Silipino said.
Thus was born the idea for Showcase Sports. Initially, Silipino said, he set up a small area in the rear of his video store to accommodate his new merchandise.
“It had its own entrance, and it was tiny. I put a piece of slatwall on the wall, and I put some shelves, and I put the cleats on it. I had two or three different styles, and I started telling people about them. Little by little, we started selling them,” Silipino said.
Soon, Silipino’s enterprise grew, and he moved into the location at 111 12th St. with two other vendors—a sports memorabilia dealer and a uniform dealer. After a time, the memorabilia dealer grew to need a larger location and the uniform dealer closed up shop.
“He moved out, I expanded and took over the whole space. As the years went on, it just kept growing and growing and growing,” Silipino said.
Concurrently, the home video business was nearing its end. As leases expired, Silipino closed the video stores and focused solely on Showcase Sports. Besides sports equipment of all kinds, Showcase Sports soon entered the field of custom sports apparel.
“First, you’re doing T-shirts, then you’re doing sweatshirts, then you’re doing uniforms and before you knew it we were doing all kinds of things,” Silipino said.
When Silipino’s younger daughter, Nicole, graduated from Hammonton High School in 2013, she began to study to be an aesthetician. However, the growth of the family business soon began to tug at her.
“While she was in school, we’d call. ‘Nicole, we’re really busy; can you help us out? Nicole, can you help us out?’ ... Nicole started helping us out, and little by little, it got to the point where Nicole’s running the whole show,” Silipino said.
Though it wasn’t her original career path, Nicole Silipino—who does moonlight as an aesthetician for a local salon—said that she couldn’t see herself doing anything else.
“I always looked at him, and was like, ‘I’m never owning my own business.’ I saw the stress that went through; but now, I would never not own my own business. I would never want to work for anybody; this is now all I want to do,” Nicole Silipino said.
Now, the two of them, along with Ron Silipino’s wife, Anne Marie, and their eldest daughter, Alyssa—who is a full-time teacher and travel softball coach—are adjusting to life after moving to their new location at 130 S. White Horse Pike on June 7.
“The business exploded; it got busy to the point where we just outgrew our old location. We needed more space,” Ron Silipino said.
The new location, he said, offers exposure, more room and an area for a batting cage.
“I really wanted to do a batting cage. When you go to a batting cage, you’re hitting. You’re getting your swings in. That’s why the pros do batting practice before a game; it builds confidence ... There’s nowhere to do that in town. I always wanted a place where a parent can come, spend a half-hour in here before a game and let their kids hit, or just at any time,” Ron Silipino said.
Ron Silipino said that the batting cage also allows for Showcase Sports to offer pitching lessons—as well as hitting lessons, which Alyssa Silipino will provide.
The additional space at the new location will make it easier for Showcase Sports to handle its corporate accounts; besides uniforms and sports apparel for teams in the region, they print and embroider shirts for a number of non-sports companies.
“Every one of these companies, their owners coach something. Their kids play sports, and they know what we can do ... every part of it started from sports,” Ron Silipino said, noting that the business itself started with three cleat styles in an elevator in Florida.
For more information, call (609) 561-4141 or visit njshowcasesports.com.