Out of season sales
Need new bathing suits for your kids? Wait until September when stores need to clear them out and find them often up to 75% off. Hockey skates? Wait until the summer. Of course, you will need to remember that there is a strong possibility that your child may grow before they need to don their equipment but using your best judgement of how much your child will probably grow, you can certainly find great deals.
Second-hand sports equipment retailers
A handy way to purchase less expensive sports equipment is by buying at second hand sports stores. All 10 provinces in Canada have second hand sporting stores such as Play It Again Sports. The advantage of buying directly from these stores is that you know they always purchase pieces to be sold second-hand in perfect condition. Equipment can be purchased for a large number of sports including snowboarding, soccer, skiing, hockey, tennis, golf, baseball, and many more.
Online second-hand purchases
No matter where you live, a quick search of internet classified sites such as Craigslist, eBay, or Kijiji will reveal a large number of products that people wish to sell. Occasionally, you may even be lucky enough to stumble upon a piece of equipment that someone has bought and never used but is willing to sell at a lower price. Most often, ads will have pictures that will show the piece being sold but the best way to judge the quality of it is when you actually inspect it upon pickup.
Rent from the sports league
Many sports leagues have equipment that they will rent to families. This is a fantastic way to use equipment at a low cost and ensure you are not purchasing a piece that your child may outgrow in a short period of time. Contact the league as early as possible to see if they do rent equipment and secure pieces early.
There are many great rental stores across the country that loan out equipment at a fraction of the price of purchasing it. This option is particularly good if your Eugenie Bouchard decides after a few months of tennis lessons that she has changed her mind and wants to focus more on channeling her inner Christine Sinclair. Rental stores also often sell their equipment if they have a surplus of pieces.
Half back programs
Many stores, particularly ski stores and some bike stores, run programs through which you can purchase equipment for your children at the beginning of the season and return it at the end for a 50% credit towards buying equipment in the following season. Again, this works well for growing kids who may be up to your belly button in the summer and up to your shoulders come December!
There are many, many online and in-store opportunities for you to swap equipment with others. As a way of encouraging the recycling of gear, Mountain Equipment has an online swap “store”. Many sports leagues also run their own swap events before their seasons begin. Make sure you inquire with your child’s league upon registration to see if this very economical way of acquiring equipment is available.
Scour your local classifieds and check for posters on street corners and on community bulletin boards. Families are usually eager to part with all kinds of items, including sports equipment, and what better way than with a good old garage sale. It’s a great way to recycle and another chance for bargain hunters to score some great deals on sports gear (along with driftwood lamps and kids’ chemistry labs from the ’70s; what could go wrong?).
The costs associated with sports can definitely be high. But with a little research, cutting some of the equipment costs can result in a happier bottom line and hopefully more people involved in sports.