Decades-old sports store in Guelph struggling during COVID-19 pandemic
Published Wednesday, July 8, 2020 6:46PM EDT
GUELPH -- He’s often found sitting outside his shop with his dog Mogley, wearing his multi-coloured propeller beanie and sparking up a conversation with everyone who walks by.
Dino Givani Scrementi is the owner of Dino’s Athletic Direct, an athletic apparel shop on Wyndham Street North in downtown Guelph. He sells all the professional brands, like the NHL, NFL and NBA, as well as some local brands including the University of Guelph, OUA Gryphon’s.
Scrementi said the pandemic and the forced closure of his store has impacted him both emotionally and financially.
He’s being selling athletic apparel in the downtown for nearly 40 years.
“I couldn’t see anybody and I am all about love, people, hugging,” he said.
As many retailers shifted to online orders and curbside pick-up, Scrementi admits he’s old school.
“I am not an online presence store I am a people store," he said. "You want something, come meet me, come see me.”
He’s very well known in the downtown neighbourhood.
“They call me Dizzy Dino, they call me Dill Pickle," he said.
The Dizzy Dino nickname refers to the clutter in his store. It’s a style that he says has worked for years and he isn’t willing to change.
“It’s like a mystery, people come in, they never know what they’ll find," Scrementi said. "Sometimes they find stuff I didn’t even know I had.”
Scrementi says his landlord did give him a break during the pandemic. During the forced closure, he started working multiple other jobs in order to pay the bills.
The jobs included serving food at Osmow's, a Mediterranean restaurant next door to his shop. He's still working their part time.
“I’ve been working with Dino for the last three months, best guy, hard working guy,” Osmow’s owner Shah Rukh said.
The doors to Dino’s Shop are now open, along with many other retailers in the city. But with professional sports still on hiatus, he says his business continues to struggle.
Typically, the Blue Jays would be playing right now and their gear would be very popular this time of year.
“Football’s coming up. I don’t know if that’s gonna happen, but I hope it does because that’s huge for business," he said.
The 70-year-old says he’ll do whatever it takes to keep his doors open, even if that includes continuing his part time work at other businesses. He doesn’t plan on retiring for at least 10 years.
“As long as you make ends meet, that’s what me mother always said," he said. I don’t need anything else, I don’t need anything fancy.”
Dino also runs a children’s day camp every summer called "Dino’s Sneakers 'N Sandwiches Camp."
Barb Low has known Dino for 25 years. Her now 30-year-old son attending his camp as a child.
“He’s one of the most amazing people I’ve met,” she said.
This year, the camp is on hold due to lack of funds and other the pandemic related issues.