By Doug Halberstadt
Like almost every other single consumer item, the cost of sporting goods has gotten significantly more expensive over the last few years. New materials and new technology are part of the blame. There’s no doubt the products have greatly improved for the serious athlete.
The problem is, not all of us need the latest poly-carbon, super strong, extra heavy-duty tennis racket or baseball bat. This is especially true when it comes to children just getting started in a new sport. The cost of brand-new equipment can be overwhelming for parents.
Whether it’s hockey skates and pads, a new bowling ball, fishing tackle or a baseball glove and bat, it’s not uncommon for the equipment to cost hundreds of dollars if starting from scratch. And if your child is anything at all like most other kids on this planet, a month from now they could decide they no longer want to take tennis lessons, karate is now their sport of choice, and that brand-new racket transforms into an expensive garage decoration.
I have a simple solution, and this is the perfect time of year for it: Garage sales. They can be a great, inexpensive resource for slightly-used sporting equipment. Why spend big bucks on a brand-new catcher’s mitt to find out a week later the coach has decided your son has the best arm on the team and wants him to play center field? If you have the patience to search a few garage sales, you could probably find a used catcher’s mitt and a fielder’s glove for less than half of what one of those gloves would have cost new.
The same holds true for most other types of sporting goods. Garage sales are full of used golf clubs, fishing tackle, roller blades, hockey and football helmets, and almost every single one I’ve ever stopped at has a basketball, soccer ball or football for less than $2.
They’re not a panacea, but garage sales can be an inexpensive alternative to buying everything brand new, and they are a good way to let your child find out whether they really are going to become the next Patrick Kane or Monica Seles without it costing you the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries for a family of five.
So, before you go out to the local sporting goods store and drop a few hundred bucks on a brand-new motocross bike, helmet and pads, investigate a garage sale or two. Chances are pretty good you’ll find some other kid had that same desire last summer and has now moved on to horseback riding or scuba lessons … or go carting, or archery, or …
From the June 12-18, 2013, issue