Standing there, with his $2.49 little league bat, Play-It-Again Sports owner Steve McAndrew remembers all too well how affordable sporting goods used to be.
All he had to do was head to Coffee’s Hardware in Avoca to get his hands in a wooden bat, which cost him less than $3.
McAndrew still has that bat today — it sits behind the desk at his Play-It-Again Sports store in the Highway 315 Plaza in Wilkes-Barre.
The store that McAndrew owns and operates isn’t your run-of-the-mill sporting goods retailer — it’s a resaler. Anything from skies to golf clubs to gloves are stocked on the shelves, all between 50 and 70 percent off. Sure, some of them are used, but McAndrew believes he’s providing a chance for unfortunate families to bond over sport.
“With the economy and stuff, it’s rough,” McAndrew said. “People are either not playing or can’t afford to play. That’s where we come in.”
McAndrew has owned Play-It-Again Sports for nearly eight years. When Techneglas closed, McAndrew was about to head back to school. But instead, he decided to open the store.
McAndrew used to frequent the Allentown store quite often while traveling for sports with his children.
The name Play-It-Again says it all. Whether it’s used or new equipment, McAndrew has been providing a service to the area. That’s what keeps him going.
“It’s about getting the kids out to play sports,” he said.
For McAndrew it’s all about the process. On too many occasions he sees families that can’t afford to go to chains to buy a brand new baseball bat or hockey stick.
A few months back, a young father came into the store with his three daughters, all wanting to play soccer. They needed cleats, so McAndrew hooked them up at nearly aquarter of what it would cost at a national chain. “He spent somewhere around $45,” McAndrew said.
“He had three little girls and they all wanted to play soccer,” McAndrew added. “He fitted all three with cleats, socks, shin guards and balls. He thought he hit the lottery. He was thrilled.”
According to NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals, resale is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, growing at a rate of about 7 percent each year for the past two years. And this growth comes during an economic downturn when other businesses have been forced to close their doors.
Play-It-Again also buys back equipment if it’s in good condition. That’s one of the things that keeps the Avoca resident and his store afloat.
Young athletes grow outgrow clothing — and equipment — all the time. Sometimes they try selling it at a yard sale. But they can just take it to McAndrew’s store.
Both of McAndrew’s sons, Corey and Casey, have been into ice hockey for many years now. Hockey is one of the biggest sports dad deals with at the store. But he also has to deal with his sons pick-pocketing him.
“I get robbed every time they come in the store,” McAndrew laughed. “They have their Christmas lists picked out already.”
The month of December is one of McAndrew’s favorite months at Play-It-Again. Each year, the store operates a Knee Hockey Fundraiser which benefits Ruth’s Place, an emergency shelter for women in Luzerne County. This year’s tournament will be held from Friday, Dec. 14 through Sunday, Dec. 16. For more information, call Play-It-Again Sports at 570-208-2446.