BAXTER — If outgrown or lightly used sports or fitness equipment is gathering dust, if staying in good shape is a new goal on a tight budget, or if a young player needs new gear, a new store in Baxter is ready to meet those needs.
Mike and Betsy Hoff opened Play It Again Sports on Thursday, May 25, on Elder Drive in Baxter near Costco. The store is in Northwoods Plaza, a strip mall just south of Home Depot.
Play It Again Sports has new inventory and used items that make up the quality criteria. For an area famous for golf, clubs and bags of all sizes for kids and adults filled one section of the store. Around the corner was row upon row of hockey skates with additional hockey equipment.
Hoff understands how expensive it can be for a child to play sports. His 12-year-old son plays hockey, baseball and soccer.
“Kids are expensive and sports are expensive and this helps ease some of that burden,” Mike Hoff said while working at the store Wednesday afternoon. “There’s no place in town where you can buy a high-end hockey stick, so people have to drive to St. Cloud for it.”
Hoff said he will offer those hockey needs closer to home, as well as offer skate sharpening.
Play It Again Sports announced the store’s grand opening celebration starting Thursday, noting that “athletes of all ages will soon have a place to sell their quality pre-owned sports and fitness equipment, including football equipment, baseball gloves and bats, gear hockey, golf clubs, soccer equipment, lacrosse equipment, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, bench presses, weights and more at Play It Again Sports.”
Hoff, who has been a senior diabetes specialist for more than 10 years, said he gave up a decent career to take the risk of running his own business. Hoff may also be familiar to Lakes area residents as a former member of the Nissoa City Council and former chairman of the board of directors of the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association.
One of the goals of Play It Again Sports is to reuse and recycle and keep items out of the landfill. Much of the equipment that young people grow out of is still in perfectly good condition to be used again. Other purchases may be for exercise equipment that never quite lives up to its full use as the buyer had hoped, but that could create a discount opportunity for someone else.
“A lot of people feel bad if they use a pair of cleats for a year and they’re brand new and they’re like, ‘What am I going to do with them?'” Hoff said. “Someone else is looking for a decent pair of cleats and they don’t have to spend the money on them or whatever – it’s just something they’ve outgrown and it’s perfectly fine, why throw it away?” Keep things out of landfill – that’s sustainability.”
For people looking to sell their used sports or fitness equipment that is still in good shape, the store offers a place to do so without having to set up a social media meeting with a buyer who may or may not show up. The store buys items with cash or store credit on the spot and will offer trade-in options.
Sports equipment in the store includes a wide range of pickleball to disc golf and water sports, boxing, soccer and baseball. There are stability balls, weights, yoga mats, used bikes, lacrosse, treadmills and exercise equipment and more. The inventory also includes skis and snowboards. And the store always buys equipment year-round. The inventory is also constantly changing.
Hoff said the store features local school team colors and customization of jerseys, hats and socks. Hoff said they are competitive with big boxes by drawing on the buying power of the 300 Play It Again Sports stores for pricing. Customers have the option to buy online and pick up in store or have items delivered directly to them.
Store employee DJ Johnson said the location near Costco should also be beneficial because they already had customers coming from Bemidji who were in Baxter for other purchases. The store, Johnson said, will also give people options when driving to St. Cloud or Duluth to get what they need.
“We take care of families. We are a community-based business,” Johnson said.
And Johnson said a lot of quality used items are half the price of new retail, which is a big savings for people. When a customer stopped by Wednesday with a pile of used equipment to check out for a potential purchase at the store, Hoff examined each piece.
“He’s really big on giving back to the community,” Johnson said of Hoff. “He is great with customer service. … We want this to be their favorite sporting goods store.”
As Hoff prepared for opening day, he said it was a mix of emotions with excitement and nerves.
“Hopefully this will be good in the long run, for me — for the lakes community,” Hoff said.
The new store is located at 13495 Elder Drive S., Suite 160, in Baxter.
The first 25 customers in line for Thursday’s opening day received $25 in gift cards. There were kick-off giveaways of wow items on a stand up paddle board, master gift bag and ice ball sets with a gift with every purchase.
The specials continue through the weekend with free Rafferty’s Pizza Saturday, discounts and coupons for Memorial Day weekend, along with bike helmet and baseball backpack giveaways.
Editor’s note: The story was updated to correct a misspelled word in a quote.
Renee Richardson, managing editor, can be reached at 218-855-5852 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.