South Shore Breaker

Making sure every kid can play

With the rising cost of living, sports equipment can be pricey, but there are options to help


Done properly, youth sport really is a gateway to all the things the cliches say it is: improved confidence, lifelong exercise, friendship and personal growth.

Rising prices are, in many ways, a growing barrier to kids being able to enjoy those experience­s.

And it’s not a one-time cost.

Ask any coach. A kid who used to be four feet tall is, two years later, suddenly almost six feet. And with that comes two or even three replacemen­ts of their gear. Kids don’t only grow in the offseason, sometimes outgrowing new gear by Christmas.

And gear sometimes breaks. So, what are the options?


The good news is, according to Jeff Mayhew, co-owner of Sportwheel­s Sports Excellence in Lower Sackville, N.S., used equipment has never been higher in quality.

“It is lasting longer, and it’s holding a higher value at resale as well,” he says.

“I feel like the selection pool of used (equipment) is smaller, but what’s available is much nicer than it was years ago.

“A $50 used skate from five to seven years ago was really not gonna last you long. It was kind of a junk skate,” says Mayhew. “I find now, for 50 bucks, you’re getting a reasonable used product that’s going to last you for several years, depending on the condition of it at the time.”


The emergence of online options like Facebook Marketplac­e, Kijiji and others has changed how used gear gets distribute­d.

Dedicated used retailers like Play It Again Sports have slowly disappeare­d, leaving the in-person used market to stores like Sportwheel­s that have areas of their shop dedicated to used gear.

“(Online) hasn’t killed the used business, but it’s put a huge dent. Kids that are growing out (of gear) or they don’t want to play anymore, a lot of that product is going on Facebook Marketplac­e and being resold. And the parents are getting some of their money back that way in cash form, which is great.”

For people who don’t want to fuss with online selling, there are still options.

“We’re still seeing a lot of customers coming in and trading the product in because they don’t want to mess around with meet up times and people not messaging back and playing that marketplac­e game.”

It is generally worth checking out Facebook Marketplac­e, Kijiji or other similar online options. Of course, when agreeing to meet with someone to buy, it’s important to remember to meet at a public, neutral site where you feel safe.


It’s worth looking online for other resources as well.

Often, local sports organizati­ons like Sport Nova Scotia or Sport NL will be able to direct people towards potential resources or help to navigate the array of programs that exist.

There is also Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program.

Kidsport is an umbrella program that people can apply to confidenti­ally to get grants that help cover registrati­on

costs. For families on a budget, this can help free up money for equipment.

It’s also always worth checking with your child’s sports organizati­on. Some associatio­ns have sets of loaner gear or can help network with other parents to locate perfectly good equipment that’s sitting unused because it was outgrown.


At Sportwheel­s, Mayhew has formalized a program to continue the work his dad did informally.

“Dad used to do this back in the ‘80s,” says Mayhew. “On the side, he would go out of his way to help people out of his own pocket. And he never really tracked it.”

The Sportwheel­s program

is called Giving Forward. They don’t take cash donations but set aside a portion of their profits to provide equipment and registrati­on money for families.

Those families are nominated through partners like the IWK, Schoolsplu­s, the Salvation Army and others.

“We don’t take nomination­s directly from families. They have to come through one of our nonprofit giving partners that we’ve been partnering with for years,” he says.

“When the nomination­s come in through there, they get vetted, and the decision is made by a committee on how to move forward and what we can do to help.”


Mayhew says since 2014, Sportswhee­ls has helped more than 1,600 local kids get over the financial hurdles keeping them out of sports.

“When parents come in, their kid’s all excited and they saved up the money and they paid the registrati­on fee,” says Mayhew.

“And they come in with this idea to get gear and only have a couple hundred bucks. And next thing you know, it’s like the skates alone are $200, just to get a new pair of skates or whatever the situation is.”

He’s seen the anguish of parents who are left feeling uncomforta­ble because they can’t afford it.

“We feel like they should be (in sports) and that there’s gotta be a way and we’ve just been trying to use our business to help.”

 ?? CONTRIBUTE­D ?? Jeff Mayhew’s family has owned Sportwheel­s in Sackville, N.S., since 1947. Their current Giving Forward Mission is designed to help kids who fall into the gaps in other sport-funding programs.
CONTRIBUTE­D Jeff Mayhew’s family has owned Sportwheel­s in Sackville, N.S., since 1947. Their current Giving Forward Mission is designed to help kids who fall into the gaps in other sport-funding programs.

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