The first time Tom Ciaravino started to sell screen printed t-shirts was in 1979, and soon he and his co-founder and wife Kathy would take their small business from their garage in Endicott, and with the help of their two sons, turn it into a nationally recognized business.
What was just a passion grew into the family-owned company, Worldwide Sport Supply. Within the next few years, Worldwide Sport Supply transformed from a business with predominantly local consumers to a national wholesale distributor for sporting goods throughout the 1980’s.
Selling top-of-the-line athletic wear and supplies for any sport (as one of the few wholesale distributors at the time), Worldwide Sport Supply made a name for itself early on – both at home and across the country. It was only as other distributors began to emerge, such as DICK’s Sporting Goods and Sport Authority, that Worldwide Sport Supply was confronted with the need to adapt their business model.
In 1996, after brothers TJ and Andrew Ciaravino returned to the business from Ithaca College and Binghamton University, respectively, they assumed co-ownership and started Worldwide Sport Supply down the path it’s on today.
The two analyzed the market needs and isolated what their competitors were lacking. Soon Worldwide Sport Supply found their home in two niche markets – wrestling and volleyball athletic wear and equipment. By focusing in on the markets their competitors overlooked, Worldwide Sport Supply skyrocketed to the leading wrestling supplier in 2000 and the top volleyball supplier a few years later, in 2003.
Over the years, as the market grew, however, and new competitors entered the ring, Worldwide Sport Supply knew they had to grow with it in order to maintain their competitive edge. Their business shifted once again, now including online stores tailored to individual sports teams. The online websites are built for organizations by Worldwide employees and can be used for simple apparel orders or specific fundraisers.
Worldwide Sport Supply continues to sell top brands, such as Adidas and Under Armour, with the option for personalization by school, team, and even clubs, such as Broome County’s very own Vestal Voices. Worldwide Sport Supply can also print large promotional items for groups. Graphic designers work to create the perfect design for each group’s order, and be it screen printing, applied graphics, or embroidery, Worldwide Sport Supply takes pride in the products they create.
Now, with the COVID-19 crisis, businesses across the country have had to adapt their operations significantly on just a moment’s notice. With a strong history of making proactive adjustments to their business model to stay ahead, the team at Worldwide Sport Supply took this challenge head on.
Once again, they knew the market was changing drastically, as sporting events were facing cancellations. Worldwide started targeted apparel campaigns for different teams nationwide, such as “We will volley again,” or “We will swim again.” People across the country were still buying t-shirts and apparel, but the Ciaravino brothers knew exactly what everyone needed: face masks.
With fun designs and the ability to customize face masks with business or school logos, Worldwide Sport Supply was soon handling dozens of large orders from all over the country.
Once situated with their new business model, Worldwide Sport Supply immediately turned its sights on the community. TJ and Andrew knew not every business would be able to quickly pivot and operate remotely during the shutdown. Broome County has always been their home, as both graduates of Union-Endicott, they have always wanted to give back to their community however they could.
Utilizing the same online platform Worldwide Sport Supply uses for team apparel fundraisers, OrderMyGear, TJ and Andrew set up the Community-Tee Project, a fundraiser designed to support local small businesses. TJ said at first he did not expect to have many businesses participate, but to his surprise within the first couple of weeks, nearly three dozen companies had already committed to the project. By the end, just shy of 200 businesses showed their support for their fellow community members. Worldwide Sport Supply raised a total of $36,000 for local small businesses in need.
This was not their first, nor last, community fundraiser. In 2019, following the tragic death of NYSDOT worker Matt Howe, Worldwide Sport Supply raised funds and awareness for the “Move Over” campaign, designed to educate the driving public on safety measures to be taken on the road especially when in active work zones.
In March 2020, Worldwide Sport Supply also helped to raise money for the Meals on Wheels of Western Broome to make sure members of their community would have access to healthy meals while many faced financial uncertainties due to the coronavirus. At the end of this past June, in response to the destructive vandalism of the adaptive playground Our Space, and Recreation Park in Binghamton, Worldwide Sport Supply stepped to the plate again holding another fundraiser to help give back to the community.
Worldwide Sport Supply is truly the definition of a community driven business and hopes to inspire other businesses to do the same.
When asked why stay in Broome County, co-owner TJ answered “Why wouldn’t you want to stay here? It is a great place to raise a family, and with the Binghamton downtown there’s plenty to do.”
To TJ, this community allows him and his family to do whatever they need to in life. For him, a good life means to work hard and play hard, and at Worldwide Sport Supply, he and his employees have found that perfect life work balance.
Worldwide Sport Supply is a part of why #Broomeisgood.