Sweltering summer can’t melt hockey fever
While wildfires, smoky skies, blackened hillsides, heat, drought and bad publicity conspire to slow the flow of dollar bills into cash registers, at least one downtown business is thriving, and you probably won’t believe who it is.
That’s right. Glenwood Hockey, a store that caters to what most consider a winter sport, is not wilting this summer.
“I’m doing great,” said Glenwood Hockey owner Peter Sharpe. “No complaints. For June of 2001 compared to June of 2002, business is up 10 percent.”
Before you start thinking Sharpe has cornered the youth hockey market on the Internet, or he’s delusional from the heat, look at a couple of reasons why his summer business is up.
For one thing, ice rinks in Vail and Aspen are both operating this summer, after being closed for remodeling last year. Both are offering summer hockey camps this year, “and a lot of kids go to camps,” said Sharpe.
Then there’s the growing inline hockey market. Most of the inline gear, such as sticks and protective padding, is interchangeable with hockey gear. More kids are playing inline hockey now that the Glenwood Springs recreational leagues have switched from a parking lot to the smooth concrete at the new community center ice rink, which is converted to inline hockey for summer use.
“Inline hockey really took off this year,” said Sharpe. “But it still has a long way to go before it peaks.”
As Sharpe talked about inline hockey, a father and son entered the store to look around. Within minutes, the boy sat down on a bench, and Sharpe started measuring him for shin pads.
“This goes on the outside of the knee,” Sharpe explained as he strapped a shin guard on the boy’s leg. “This part goes on the outside part of the (boot) tongue. They can be used for inline or hockey.”
Sharpe is president of Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey, and he explained to the father a little bit about what the 9-year-old club is all about.
“There’s a good market for used gear,” Sharpe said. “The hockey club tries to promote that. We’ll have a swap meet in October.”
After the shin guard fitting, the pair went over to a rack of hip pads. “You want your hips and tailbone to be protected,” Sharpe said as he lifted a pair of the thick pads off the rack.
Next it was over to a catalogue on the sales counter to check on equipment that Sharpe is expecting for delivery later this summer.
“We have something coming in on almost a daily basis,” Sharpe said. “Feel free to call,” he concluded as the father and son left the cool store and headed back out into the afternoon heat.
Glenwood Hockey is located at 213 8th St., less than a half block west of Grand. “I get more old pros during the summer than winter,” said Sharpe. “They stop in on vacation … St. Louis Blues (player) Larry Giroux stopped by.”
As Sharpe explained that he had brisk sales in Avalanche jerseys, T-shirts, flags and related items during the team’s march to the Stanley Cup in 2001, Dennis Fox stopped in.
“What do we got?” Sharpe asked Fox.
“A hockey schedule,” said Fox, a Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey board member.
The two hockey boosters spent a few minutes pouring over the community center’s ice rink schedule for next winter, then Fox, a certified public accountant, headed back to his office.
Sharpe started Glenwood Hockey next door in the back room of the old Baja Blues store six years ago, then moved to his current store.
“I like downtown. It’s on the way to everywhere,” Sharpe said.
The Glenwood Hockey retail area is L shaped, like two small living rooms joined together. It’s packed with racks and walls full of hockey sticks, hip and shoulder pads, skates and inline skates, jerseys, helmets, pucks, and related gear.
“A woman came in from Grand Junction and she couldn’t believe the selection we have here,” Sharpe said. “I can compete on price with the big boys in Denver.”
A few minutes later, in came Annie Tierney and her 9-year-old daughter Lily.
“Hi ya, coach,” Tierney said.
“What’s Logan doing?” Sharpe said, asking about Tierney’s 12-year-old son.
“Golf … Golf and hockey,” Tierney replied.
Tierney lives in Aspen. Lily is also a hockey player, and told Sharpe how her brother likes to check her on the ice.
“We like to stop by the shop when we come down,” Tierney said.
Tierney brought Sharpe up to date on Logan’s hockey progress. “He’s not playing goalie anymore … he’s taking skating lessons,” she said.
Tierney and Sharpe chatted a few more minutes, during which time Lily announced she has a molar coming in.
“We’re going to need some skates,” Tierney told Sharpe as they headed out to Wal-Mart. “We’ll bring him in.”
Earlier, when Fox and Sharpe were talking about next winter’s ice rink schedule, they briefly mentioned a pending hockey club proposal to build straw bale walls around the ice rink, which could turn it into a year-round facility.
“We need that,” Sharpe said. “It will be a huge benefit to the town.”
The store was briefly quiet for a moment, before the phone rang and Sharpe had to go answer it. The caller was an Internet website designer, asking about a proposal sent earlier.
“I haven’t had a chance to look at it,” Sharpe told the caller. “I’ve been kind of busy.”
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The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is working with local businesses and organizations to celebrate the spirit of Strawberry Days with a Berry Special Weekend from June 18-20, according to a news release.