Monday, August 12, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Buying Used Hockey Gear

     When is it safe to scrimp and when should you cough up the cash to buy equipment fresh off the rack? The debate among my hockey Facebook friends included Skaneateles, N.Y. hockey mom Alyssa Tauber Militello with a simple response, “Pro: Cost. Con: The stink of a stranger.” You make a pungent point Alyssa! Stink can sink any savings.

     There’s nothing cheap about hockey, and your wallet can take a beating, especially when your kids are growing like weeds. Who can blame a parent for wanting to buy used? But, buyer beware. I teamed up with Pittsburgh’s Frugal mom, Dana Vento, also of A Hockey Mom with some factors to consider. Her top concern: safety. Helmets, chest protectors, gloves and face masks are all pieces that are best bought new. Materials like padding, foam, and straps can wear down over time, and can fail to protect our kids. As padding is used over and over, it hardens, leaving it less padded. Face masks and helmets have new safety guidelines. Avoid buying used because it’s tough to tell how new the equipment is. Gloves have critical padding to withstand the hit of hockey sticks, pucks and skates. Missing or worn down pads can lead to hand injuries. Be sure to check the shells of used skates. They have to be in great shape for all those hits. At garage sales, the price may look right, but consider what you don’t know. How long has the gear been in an attic, garage or shed? How much sun, heat or play time has the equipment been exposed to? There are some pieces of equipment you can purchase without worry, including hockey socks, elbow pads, knee pads (without cracks), sticks, and pants with no rips, tears or missing padding. For the U8 hockey players, who see less action, it’s a safer purchase used.

     I  admire Fulton, N.Y. hockey dad Todd Shear for turning this topic into teachable moments. “We try and make our son understand the cost of his activities, how many hours he and we would have to work to make the money to buy it and let him know if he wants to buy new he can pitch in 50% of it, which he does sometimes. He values and takes care of his stuff much better this way.” The pro in purchasing used equipment is saving money, but carefully inspect the gear. As Vento points out, “When buying used, you can never be too careful.” You may save a few bucks, but consider what it could end up costing. If your player is not protected, there are no second chances.

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