By Jon Stone, Director of Store Operations
One of the best things about working at Pure Hockey is, well, working at a hockey store! It is never a bad or boring time when you are interacting with hockey people and are around hockey equipment all day. As an added bonus, we recently had a chance to travel up to Canada and meet with three equipment manufacturers – Reebok/CCM, Easton, and Bauer – to pick their brains concerning manufacturing and customizing skates. Our stores are loaded with employees who are hockey players and who love the sport. More importantly, our store managers have years of hockey and retail experience and each have a unique knowledge of how to address issues concerning the fit of your hockey skate.
A small group of four store managers and our equipment buyer headed north of the border for three days in May to work with the heads of the skate design, production, and pro departments at the offices of hockey’s top vendors. We had an opportunity to tour the custom/pro stock factories, view some of the Research and Distribution processes and talk with the actual people who build the skates that your favorite NHL players and other professional hockey players wear. The purpose of our trip was to understand how the skate manufacturing gurus solved foot/skate issues for professional hockey players and how we could incorporate some of what they do at the retail level. We were able to ask representatives from Easton, Bauer, and Reebok/CCM how they deal with pronation and supination issues, the use of lifts in skates, and ways to combat lace bite. We discussed ways to properly measure an athlete’s foot, ways to increase the volume of a boot, and what NHL guys are the biggest prima donnas when it comes to their skates (I’ll never tell……).
We talked about dealing with and fixing arch pain and the correct heating process to fit or customize a skate. We learned that there are over 30 different tongues you can choose from when ordering a Bauer custom skate and also which 3 or 4 are the most popular and should be carried at store level. While our focus was on skates, we also had a chance to talk custom pro stock gloves with Easton, spent some time checking out the testing that happens to protective equipment before it is safe to use, and had our fill of chicken in a box, Tim Horton’s, and Molson X.
The invaluable knowledge we gained on this trip will now be shared with all the store managers, to be used to help you – our customers! In the coming months we will be even better equipped to fit you for a custom skate, relieve a fit problem with your retail boot, and help you to be a better hockey player. We will be launching programs where you can set up a time for a custom skate fitting with one of our “skate experts” if you have an issue with your foot or skating and we will be incorporating more equipment repair work and skate customization detail at many of our locations.
This is one of MANY customer service enhancements you will see at Pure Hockey in the coming months. Stay tuned for more soon!