Equipment Guy: Repairing damaged gear saves money

Damaged hockey gear can often be repaired, which can save kids and parents a bundle of cash, says Our Game's Equipment Guy.

Rips and tears can often be fixed

The goalie glove is too expensive to have to buy new, so repairs are vital

The following is a true story.  It happened to my family this past week.  No names have been changed to protect anybody.  People who spend their money like it grows on a tree in the backyard might be offended.

Sunday, January 11

My 13-year old son walks through the front door after his latest practice and yells "Dad, I need new hockey gloves!" He pulls the gloves from the equipment bag and shows me the big hole in the palm of the left glove.

My first thought? When I bought these gloves on sale a year ago, I did so based on my own expectation that they’d last at least two seasons.  They lasted just one. 

"Considering these gloves are only a year old, there’s no way we’re spending money on a new pair!" I proclaim.  I promise my son I’ll figure something out and he’ll have gloves that don’t have holes in them in time for his next game on the weekend.

Tuesday, January 13

For two days I’ve been thinking that the easiest and quickest solution to this problem is buying a new pair.  So I wander into my local sporting goods store to see if the gloves are on sale.  They’re not and I don’t feel like paying $99.99 for gloves that I know will only last one season.

As I’m driving home, I’m reminded of a conversation my wife had recently with another hockey mom at the rink.  She mentioned something about a local shoe repair shop that helped her out with an equipment repair once. 

The weekend is approaching fast so I pencil it in on my ‘to do’ list for Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 14

I wander into ‘Head over Heels’ shoe repair shop in Oakville, armed with a damaged glove and a hopeful attitude.  Owner/operator David Wolaniuk greets me with a grin, suggesting he knows exactly why I’m dropping in.  

After a quick peek at the glove, David says "I can patch that up for $12.99.  Leave it with me and you can pick it up on Thursday."  From $99.99 to $12.99? This must be what it feels like when you win the lottery!

Turns out I’m not the first person to bring a damaged piece of hockey equipment into David’s shop. He repairs everything from helmet chin straps to hockey suspenders on a regular basis.  David says most local shoe repair shops in Canada should be able to handle the typical problems that plague today’s equipment.

Elastic Velcro wrap on shoulder, elbow and shin pads can be stitched back on or replaced.  Buttons for suspenders on pants can be replaced. General rips and tears can be patched or sewn back up. Straps and buckles on goalie pads can all be repaired.

Gloves, it turns out, are one of the most common problems when it comes to routine equipment problems.  According to Wolaniuk, the material that makes up the palm of the glove is thinner then it used to be so it’s wearing out quicker.  He says the glove that sits on the top of the stick normally wears out before the bottom glove due to the wear and tear on the tape and the knob.

That explains why just one glove had a hole in it.

Thursday, January 14

I picked up the gloves today and the hole is gone.  My son is happy to have his old gloves back and says they feel just fine.  I’m happy because it was a $12.99 solution and not a $99.99 solution and we’ve got them in time for the weekend.

David Wolaniuk is happy because he’s got a new customer.  If the economy in 2009 continues to spiral downward, David might be busier and happier than he ever dreamed of as we continue to find cost-effective ways to make our kids’ equipment last.

Equipment Guy Ron Kuipers writes regularly for Our Game.