Glenwood Springs business owner is giving up the old grind
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Peter Sharpe methodically runs the skate blade through the machine and sparks fly into the air.
With expert precision, Sharpe puts a smooth edge on the blade. It will allow the hockey player to scoot around the ice with more efficiency.
Sharpe has been sharpening skates for many years, and he’s always been the local hockey guru since arriving in the valley back in 1985.
His store – Sharpe Edge – was the go-to place for hockey supplies and skate sharpening.
Today, the store on Eighth Street near Grand Avenue is empty, and Sharpe is moving on.
Sharpe closed his store in April and now has a small space in the back of Sunlight Ski and Bike Shop at Ninth and Cooper where he sharpens skates three days a week or by appointment. His hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 3-5:30 p.m.
Sharpe said the economic and modern times were too much on his small business.
“The popularity of the Internet and the economy made doing business very tough,” he said.
A birthday present made a rather poignant statement to Sharpe.
He chuckles when he talks about his 65th birthday.
“I hadn’t really decided on my birthday. Some friends threw me a party, and they gave me a walker with a rearview mirror on it,” he said with a laugh.
“Maybe that was a sign.”
Obviously, Sharpe isn’t ready for that walker, but he has put his business in the rearview mirror.
His wife Sue has owned and operated Confetti By Design since 1985, and there are no plans to close the popular shop at Eighth and Grand.
But Peter, who comes from a banking background, says the numbers just weren’t adding up anymore.
“Certainly one of the reasons I decided to leave that space was the cost of rent. There’s one thing about business, rent goes up and profit margins go down,” he said.
He first started his hockey supply business in the back of a store he ran called Baja Blues.
“I started bringing in hockey supplies, kind of a backroom business.”
It was his hockey background that laid the foundation for his business. He said he played in college, then in a men’s league in Aspen, where he also coached. He saw an opportunity and a need for a youth hockey program in Glenwood, and that’s when he started the Glenwood Youth Hockey program. He then shifted his focus to getting an ice rink in Glenwood.
The rest is history. A successful youth hockey program and a rink at the Community Center.
The Internet shopping market will always be Goliath for the small business owner to overcome. For Sharpe it was a growing challenge all the time.
The Internet had carved away business through the years, then when the recession hit, he knew that his business was on thin ice.
“I saw an average of 15-30 percent drop. In a small market it’s quite a lot. You have to have the volume.
“They can get supplies online if they know exactly what they want. Some people would come into the shop, try on skates then buy them online. That was frustrating, but that’s the facts of life,” he said.
One of the big factors for Sharpe was his involvement in the sport had dropped off over the past few years. He stopped refereeing and coaching, and at 65, he said his body just wasn’t cooperating like it used to, so he just wasn’t getting on the ice as much.
“When you’re running a business directly with a sport you have to be involved. People who were involved in the sport knew I was there, so there was no need to advertise,” he explained.
The best time for his business was between 1995-2005 when the youth hockey program was taking off and growing and the area’s hockey popularity was bouyed by the success of the Colorado Avalanche.
He says the best part of being in the hockey business was his involvement in the sport.
“It’s not just a business thing; involvement was just wonderful. The high point was working with the hockey clubs, helping supply all their players and coaches,” he said.
He says there are no regrets, the time was right to move on. But he will always be busy.
“I’m not the sit around kind of guy,” he said.
Sharpe is involved with Literacy Outreach and is helping with Spanish translating with local schools.
Putting his business on ice wasn’t an easy decision.
“I have very mixed emotions about it. On one hand I’m very sad, it’s very disappointing. On the other hand, I’m a 65-year-old guy, I participated in the sport … I’ve been there, done that.”
Sharpe is the type of person who will keep busy. He’s goal-orientated. It’s now just a different kind of goal.
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Roaring Fork Schools volunteers who have already completed a comparable background check through an approved entity would be good to go.