One phone call changed it all for Larry VanOstrand.
VanOstrand had carved out a successful 18-year career with Klein's All-Sports, a sporting goods retailer in upstate New York and western Massachusetts. His family had just moved into a new house in his hometown of Lansing, N.Y., just outside of Ithaca. Then, one early-December 2004 morning, VanOstrand received the news that Klein's owners were going to close all 13 of their stores and begin an immediate liquidation of their inventory.
"It just flabbergasted me," said VanOstrand, who ran a Klein's store in Ithaca for 13 years and was a district manager for five years.
Fortunately for VanOstrand, a new opportunity wasn't far away in Ithaca with a store called Instant Replay Sports, which was modeled after Play It Again Sports with a combination of new and pre-owned equipment. VanOstrand bought the store in April, 2006 and now he oversees a full-line retail store, a specialty hockey/soccer shop in an indoor facility housing an ice rink and indoor soccer and lacrosse fields and an on-line E-Bay store.
"Everything happens for a reason," VanOstrand said in a recent interview for the Dealer Faceoff.
HDA: How did the opportunity with Instant Replay Sports happen?
LVO: In the back of my mind, being my own boss was something enticing but I never seriously looked into it. I didn't know the business existed but a guy who started Instant Replay Sports was looking to sell it and it was more of a hobby to him. I negotiated with him ... and it turned out to be a great deal so that's how it all came about.
HDA: What were the early challenges with Instant Replay Sports?
LVO: The first couple of years, like anything else, you have your ups and downs and peaks and valleys. I remember the first week I walked into the store, which was a dump compared to now, and thinking, 'What the heck am I doing? Why am I doing this?' I didn't have a big enough customer base to have someone work full-time at the main store and I thought, 'We've got to make some changes here.' In the long haul it all worked out.
HDA: What is unique about being part of the hockey industry?
LVO: It's something about real hockey players, most of them will go to a specialty shop and won't go to a Wal-Mart, Target, Dick's or Sports Authority. They know a specialty shop will have what they're looking for and fit them properly.
HDA: How would you characterize your part in the Ithaca hockey community?
LVO: Our local youth association has about 400 members, and since it's become an upper-middle class sport it's not a viable option to too many people with the cost involved with it. There is enough for me to justify having a hockey shop but I wish it wasn't so seasonal. It will be tough for the next five months so I couldn't exist on (hockey) alone. It's so competitive, too, and I've utilized the (on-line) option, but the big hockey on-line dealers take a big hit out of the retail end of the business. But there are still enough people who like the idea of 1-on-1 customer service and ask, 'Can you fit me for this skate,' and ask questions about different skates and never go on-line.
We cater to the youth programs and work very closely with the youth-level associations and run a lot of promotions with them. Some of the kids we fit for equipment when they were 4-5-6 years old seven years ago are still our customers.
Check out the HDA
New Product Digest!
to check out some of the newest products and innovations on the hockey market in the HDA's New Product Digest. Updates for April include a line of Shock Doctor products displayed in early March at the Let's Play Hockey Expo in St. Paul, Minn., and golf putters with a hockey stick grip by Five Hole Putters, I Have No 5 Hole apparel designed by ex-NHL goaltender Kevin Weekes and Odor Balance gear, footwear and equipment cleaner developed by pro lacrosse player Drew Westervelt.
Officials looking for visors to meet NFHS requirements for 2013-14
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) will require all of its hockey officials to have helmets equipped with half-face shields or visors,which are certified by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC), for the start of the 2013-14 season.
NFHS Ice Hockey Rules Editor Dan Schuster said he has received numerous inquiries from officials trying to locate the HECC-certified visors. If you have visors available or can help locate them, contact us at email@example.com and we'll pass along the information.
Fifteen states play high school hockey under the NFHS guidelines (Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin).
USA Hockey is also considering a rule change that is likely to go into effect in June requiring officials wear visors with their helmets for next season. However, USA Hockey would not require the visors to be HECC certified.
Canada cuts tariffs
on hockey equipment
Canadian hockey retailers and manufacturers were pleased with the news that its federal government plans to eliminate or cut tariffs on equipment. The plan, which eliminates tariffs of 18 percent on ice skates and drops tariffs between 2.5 to 18 percent on hockey equipment, was scheduled to go into effect April 1. Click here to read more.
Easton Sports changes
include hockey division
Easton-Bell Sports, Inc. has made senior and mid-level management changes in its Easton Sports unit, which will have an impact on its hockey division. Click here to read more.
Matt Arndt was promoted to executive vice president and general manager-hockey from his position as senior vice president-product creation for North America. Mark Kuryak has been appointed the senior vice president-global hockey sales and rejoined Easton Sports on April 1 after leading sales for OGIO International and Rawlings Sporting Goods the last five years.
Mike Zlaket takes over as president of Easton Sports, effective April 1, and has been with the company since 1991. Changes were made after president Chris Zimmerman, senior vice president-commerce John Graham and vice president-global hockey sales Craig Ryan resigned in March.
Solutions for showrooming
One in five consumers is showrooming, according to a Forbes
magazine survey. Of those comparing prices on-line, 33 percent leave the store and purchase from a competitor. What's the solution? Click here
to read the Forbes
article detailing how price-matching is not the only answer.
Hockey Giant opens
store in DC area
Click here to read more about Hockey Giant's move into the Washington, D.C. market with a 10,000 square-foot store set to open in April.
Performing an SEO audit
of your website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices and procedures constantly change. To ensure your website is properly optimized for a search, click here to follow these important steps once or twice a year.
AROUND THE ICE
University of Minnesota women achieve unprecedented perfection
The University of Minnesota women's hockey team made history March 24 when it beat Boston University 6-3 for the NCAA Division I championship. The Gophers finished 41-0 to complete the first undefeated D-I title season since the NCAA began recognizing champions in women's hockey in 2001.
Click here to read more.
Youth hockey at its best
Click here to watch a cool video displaying what should be the essence of youth hockey and youth sports.
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SAVE ON ALL YOUR SHIPPING!
One of the great HDA membership benefits is the ability to save money on ALL of your shipping costs - including inbound shipments from vendors. You can click here for more details about the PartnerShip program and how members can save even more money than they may have realized.
Are you looking for someone to fill a job opening? Do you know someone who is looking for a job in the hockey industry?
Click here to send Marty Maciaszek an email with your information and we'll include it in upcoming newsletters.
What's your beef?
Have an issue or problem related to the hockey industry? A concern about equipment or rules that you'd like to share with everyone?
Did you know?
Stan Mikita of the Chicago Blackhawks and Andy Bathgate of the New York Rangers are traditionally considered the first NHL players to use curved blades on their hockey sticks. The limits on the blade curvature were set at 1 inch for the 1967-68 season and reduced to a half-inch for the 1970-71 season because of the unpredictability of where the puck was going and the potential for injuries.
Hotel Discount Deadline April 10!
49th Annual NSGA Management Conference & 15th Annual Team Dealer Summit is May 5-8
Planning to attend the 2013 NSGA Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit this May? The deadline to take advantage of NSGA's discounted rate ($179/night plus tax) at the Conference & Summit's home, the PGA National Resort & Spa, is Wednesday, April 10. Make your reservations today by visiting www.nsga.org/hotel, or by calling (800) 863-2819 and mentioning NSGA.
Click here for more details about the conference where Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the keynote speaker. Bauer President and CEO Kevin Davis will also be part of a panel discussion, "Looking at the future of the sporting goods industry" at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, May 6.
Just Added: The Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit will now feature a Healthcare Reform Town Hall, taking place Sunday, May 5 from 4:30-6 pm. Learn more about the event by clicking here
Marketplace Fairness Wins Senate Support
After recently joining the Marketplace Fairness Coalition, on Thursday, March 14, a delegation of NSGA staff met with multiple legislators on Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the Marketplace Fairness Act.
On Friday, March 22, Marketplace Fairness was included as an amendment to the FY14 Senate Budget, and received 75 affirmative votes to only 24 negative. This sets up Marketplace Fairness for further consideration by the Congress with high hopes for a positive result in 2013.
To continue to help the issue garner support in the U.S. House of Representatives, we're asking our members, both large and small, to call your members of Congress to encourage them to level the playing field for your business, and to support you as a contributing member of the local community.
NSGA will continue to monitor the issue, and will report back to members as more information becomes available.
Click here to read The Associated Press story about the senate support on this issue.
We want your news!
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to Marty Maciaszek.
Become a member of the Hockey Dealers Association and help us build a voice for the independent hockey dealer. Visit our website
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