By Contributor Susan Kasimer
I have memories of shopping with Sport Fair dating back to 1989. A representative would come to my summer pool (Annandale Swim & Tennis) with boxes of team suits, goggles, and sometimes other assorted suits to wear for practice. Swimsuits were fascinating to me. I would pore over the Speedo catalogs that would come in the mail, mesmerized by all the prints that were available.
My dad, a swimmer himself, would look over them with me and we would pick out our favorites, but I never seemed to get ones beyond what my teams were wearing at the time (or hand-me-downs from my older sister, Lauren). My parents’ opinion regarding swimwear when I was younger was, “Why do you need another suit? You have your team suit.” Sigh. So much for having something that was not basic and worn by all my peers.
As the years passed, I was able to express more of an interest in spending money I earned or received on swimsuits for myself. My swimwear wardrobe grew from team suits to the occasional other “fun” Speedo suit, most often bought at Sport Fair.
Gary (Gary Ramsey, Sport Fair President) did not see the Kasimer family more than three times per year at most, but he always remembered us by name with a smile and treated us like gold when we came to shop. The store [at the time] was small, somewhat cramped, and out of our usual “bubble” of travel, but Gary made every visit of ours special. I distinctly remember being at the checkout counter in the store with my dad when I was 13 or 14. I was bouncing all over the place—SO excited about the new bag, suit, and goggles that were about to be mine at last—yet still pointing out to him all the other items I liked. He grew flustered with the mindset that he may never get me out of there because I wanted to stay and examine every inch of the place!
In the fall of 1998, I was 16 years old and swimming with the Potomac Marlins at the Dunn Loring Y. Gary was at the practice site to sell team suits and accessories and as I approached the tables full of “swim candy”, I said hello and quickly entered my usual swimwear trance as I looked at all the fun colors and patterns. Towards the end of the sell session, Gary looked at me, smiled, and said, “I would like you to work for me this summer.” I was delighted at the possibility of working at Sport Fair. It seemed far more engaging than the lifeguarding job I had at the time that bored the daylights out of me.
At 11 AM on April 17, 1999, my journey working with Sport Fair began as a seventeen-year-old making $6 an hour. It was $0.25 less than my lifeguard job, but I enjoyed interacting with customers and working with merchandise so much more than sitting in a chair watching others have fun that I did not mind the wage difference. I worked Saturdays and holidays for the rest of that school year and some during the summer. When my hourly wage at the store surpassed what I could make lifeguarding, I thankfully retired my whistle and lanyard… and gladly purchased, you guessed it… fun practice suits, goggles, and caps. I could not have been any happier or proud of my job at Sport Fair. Little did I realize that I began a career of employment that would bring me a greater sense of satisfaction than I would ever imagine!
Susan Kasimer is Sport Fair’s retail manager, a job description obtained in 2006. In addition to being a daughter, sister, and auntie to her twin nephew and niece, she is a year-round swimmer specializing in open water. She has a love for family, friends, rubber ducks, pink, and anything Lilly Pulitzer.