It was a $40 baseball glove that sparked an epiphany for Kristina Witman.
The single mother of four from North Middleton Township worked part-time while going to school full-time, and started a search for a new baseball glove for her now 7-year-old son who had already outgrown the new glove she bought the year before.
The cost seemed too much for anyone with a tight budget, and she discovered there were few options for sporting goods in the Carlisle area.
That's when an idea took hold that Witman couldn't shake.
"I couldn't get it out of my head," she said. "When everything lines up like that, you have to do it."
What she felt she had to do was own and operate Carlisle Athletic Company, which she opened on Jan. 2 at 45 Army Heritage Drive in Middlesex Township. Her business purchases new and gently used, sports and fitness gear, clothing and equipment from area residents and sells them to customers at a more budget-friendly cost.
For instance, one of the more popular items sold to her are cleats, which can cost anywhere between $19 and $70 in other stores, but which she sells between $3.99 and no more than $30 at her store.
Preparing to open her business, however, wasn't easy. While she did develop the business as she studied in her business management course at HACC, she also had to build up an array of items ready to sell when she opened. That meant tracking down sometimes brand-new items being sold at yard sales or meeting sellers through the letgo app who were looking to offload their second-hand items.
She had to do all this while caring for her four children, all younger than 7.
"It was a lot ... but I knew that I was meant to do this," Witman said.
Those who know Witman probably aren't surprised. She's an advocate for fitness and working out, and she encourages other mothers she knows to take the time to be fit; even if that means forming a small mom's group during children's practices and leading them through some exercises.
Some of that spirit is readily seen in the showcase of goods and clothing she sells. While the idea for Carlisle Athletic Company started out because of her son's baseball practice, she also sells fitness equipment, including treadmills and weights, as well as fitness apparel for adults and children alike.
"I think that's important," she said. "I hear from people, 'I didn't want to go [work out] because I don't have any fitness attire. I don't want people to judge me.' I know how expensive it is. I wanted to make it affordable to people."
While affordability is a major goal, Witman currently focuses her purchases and sales on brand-name only sporting and fitness goods and clothing. She feels that's what many children are looking for when it comes to shoes, cleats and clothes, and she wants to provide those items at a lower cost.
For people looking to sell items, Witman mostly purchases the products outright with cash if they are in good condition and in current style. She said she is considering consignment for some bigger ticket items, such as some baseball bats that have a market value of $500, but it's mostly a cash exchange for now with sellers.
Among the items she buys and sells are fitness and athletic clothing, helmets for baseball and winter sports, fitness and sports equipment, safety equipment, balls for various sports, equipment bags, cleats and athletic sneakers.
Witman notes there's always a chance that the one item someone is looking to purchase can come through the door five minutes after the customer leaves, so she's willing to take customers' information to contact them at a later date when their desired item arrives in the store.
"The inventory is always changing," she said.
Witman hopes to see more customers and sellers come through the double doors looking for a sale.
"I want people to know that there's an alternative to spending an arm and a leg for brand new items, and there's a place to sell your items too — and you can make some cash from it."
For more information, visit www.carlisleathleticcompany.com.
Email Naomi Creason at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @SentinelCreason
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