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More than just a sports store

This week's Mid-week Mugging features Dino Scrementi, owner of Dino’s Athletic Direct on Wyndham Street

If there is one enduring fixture of downtown business that everyone recognises it has to be Guelph’s own propeller-beanie wearing, Dino “Superfan” Scrementi and his shop Dino’s Athletic Direct.

“I could close now and live happily ever after but I don’t want to because I am part of this institution,” said Scrementi. “I am part of the pulse of downtown. What else would I do? I don’t know.”

For more than 38 years, Scrementi’s shop has been a hub of activity where people drop by to talk sports, politics and other aspects of life and catch up on the latest gossip.

Mogley, his white lab, often greets you at the door followed by Scrementi with his trademark propeller beanie and welcoming grin. You can even buy Dino Superfan Scrementi bobble head figurines complete with propeller beanie.

“The bottom line with the sports store is memorabilia right now,” said Scrementi. “Memorabilia, hats and t-shirts, sweatshirts, knick-knacks. We do some shoes. We do some equipment. You spread yourself thin but you try everything. At the end of the day you want to be a service to the community.”

He needs to sell merchandise to pay the bills but he isn’t a high-pressure salesman. He would rather make a friend than make a sale.

“You know what, I didn’t want to go into retail,” said Scrementi. “I wanted to be a teacher. I would have been a good one. I would have been good at whatever I wanted. I would have been a good pizza delivery guy too. I don’t know.”

Scrementi was born in Goose Bay Labrador but he spent most of his childhood in St. John’s, N.L. where his mother Elizabeth Martha Scrementi nee Earles worked as a nurse on a navy base.

After high school he moved to Ontario and enrolled at the University of Waterloo.

“I ended up going to Waterloo and I took a psych/rec program,” he said. “It took me a long time to get the degree but I did get a degree. I wanted to be a teacher because I love kids.”

He got his start in retailing in 1984 working for a shoe store called Athlete’s Foot on Carden Street. When the franchise disbanded in 1986 he bought the business and changed the name to Dino’s Athletic Club. He closed the Carden Street shop in 1993 and went to work at the University of Guelph in the Gryphon’s sports shop. He also assumed his alter ego as Superfan for the Gryphon basketball team, a role that gained comedic infamy during playoffs between the Guelph Gryphons and the Brock Badgers at McMaster University.

“The Brock Badgers made a life sized dummy of me with my face and the beanie and they hung me in effigy,” said Scrementi. “They couldn’t stand me so much that when they were winning, they hung me from the rafters.”

After a year at the U of G, Scrementi reopened his store on Wyndham Street under the name Dino’s Athletic Direct. He remains active in local sports and volunteers as umpire and referee for local kids leagues.

Among other things, he volunteers at Hope House, raises money for various charities and runs a kids’ summer camp called Dino’s Sneekers and Sam’wiches.

Scrementi never knew his father and spent most of his life believing he was an only child but that changed after his mother died in 2010.

“I thought I had nobody in my life, but three or four years after my mother passed away I got a letter in the mail from Fort Worth Texas,” said Scrementi. “My mother had a son with another man and his name is Dan Shippard. He’s my half brother from Fort Worth Texas and he’s a lawyer.”

Shippard had tracked Scrementi down and came to Guelph to visit him. Local businessman John Leacock recorded the meeting and posted the video on the Dino Superfan Scrementi Facebook page.

If you can’t find it online drop into the shop and Dino will be happy to pull it up for you. Who knows you just might spot some sports merchandise you’d like to buy while you’re there.

“It used to be a lot of shoes but the big shoe companies have decided that small business is not what they want,” said Scrementi. “They want to go with Amazon and online so, I had to adjust to stay here. There is going to come a time when I can’t do this anymore.

Health is the number one thing. I feel good so I just keep doing this and I will just keep paying the bills.”