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Living the American Dream in Hamden, CT

By David Boegaard

From humble beginnings as a traveling novelty vendor at parades more than 40 years ago, to the owner and manager of the exclusive souvenir merchandise concession at the Hartford Civic Center, to the current business of producing and selling concessions for sports events across the country, N&D Sports is a family business whose story looks a lot like the American dream.

Co-owner of N&D Nick D'Ambrosia tells us that his father, D'Ambrosia Sr., got his sons involved in the business early on. "At age 10, my brothers and I started vending novelties at parades, carnivals, and fairs throughout Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts," recalls D'Ambrosia.

Dave and Nick D'Ambrosia

Eventually, the D'Ambrosia brothers took over the business from their father, and their big break came in 1975 when they secured a contract for souvenir merchandise concessions at the Hartford Civic Center. They've maintained that relationship ever since - while continuing to expand. For the last 15 years, N&D has handled merchandise for many of Connecticut's largest arenas.

But N&D didn't stop at the Connecticut border! "We run souvenir concessions at numerous sporting events," says D'Ambrosia with pride, "including The Rose Bowl, Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, NCAA Final Four, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, The Head of The Charles Regatta, and various other amateur and professional rowing, track, volleyball, and family events."

Each event requires a separate contract to secure concession rights. "We are extremely proud and humble of our reputation in our industry," notes D'Ambrosia. "I think this is a huge factor in securing most of our events."

It's not just the quality of the products that makes N&D stand out. The brothers focus on providing excellent customer service during concessions sales - and even make a point of being on site for major events. "My partner Dave or I try to be present at all major events. We try to stay close to our event clients and our vending crew," says D'Ambrosia. "Once the event is complete, we provide merchandise settlements, get the client's and staff's feedback, and make numerous suggestions for next year's event."

N&D Sports is best known for sports souvenirs and concessions, but their business specialties are actually significantly broader. "My father also started an advertising specialty business, selling custom printed calendars, key rings, ice scrapers, etc, to many businesses in the southern Connecticut area," says D'Ambrosia. This advertising business has also expanded under the careful guidance of the D'Ambrosia family, and today N&D is known nation-wide for creating promotional products for businesses.

After all this time, N&D remains a family business, run by the D'Ambrosia brothers but rippling out into the newer generations. "Presently, the family's next generation is heavily involved in the day to day operations, with my nephews Nick and Marc D'Ambrosia working full time. We are grooming them to be our future owners," D'Ambrosia says. "My daughter Bianca works concerts, sporting and family events, while home on break from George Washington University." It's a classic Connecticut story of the rewards of hard work, collaboration, and pride in one's work.

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