Way back when the kids were taking hockey a little more seriously I set out to get them decent skates other than the cheap freebies or Listen Center bargains. The same goes for skiing, at some point you just have to get past saving money buying used gear and get them new stuff. With N being the more hardcore player, getting him new skates was essential. With A, being the more casual of the two, she was fine with what she was using. The funny thing about kids is that they grow, so replacements were in order.
A few years back I got N some nice skates online on clearance and he used them for a couple of years before he outgrew them. I broke down and went to Stateline and got him new ones that he used last season, and truth be told, their prices were very reasonable, even compared to going online. The skates were on the nicer end so they weren't cheap, but they were killer skates and he loved them. Enough said. Unfortunately, it didn't take long before he outgrew them. I went through this whole fiasco trying to save money which I won't bore you with, but suffice it to say that N is starting to require adult sizes, which translates into higher costs. Funny how that works. In the end I got him new skates this season and again, he loves them and is skating beautifully on them. I said it before that it's a good thing I'm a working man because keeping the supply chain open for hockey and skiing can weigh heavily on your wallet.
Anyway, my point is, a few years back when I got N new skates I got A new skates, as well. Since she wasn't as serious, I figured I could get her a less expensive pair of skates, though new, nonetheless. She loved the skates and has used them ever since. To her credit, she has never complained and has never asked for new skates. Her approach has always been that they work and there's no need to get new ones, despite my strong desire to get her new ones. She keeps shooting down my frivolousness. What a great kid.
Well, like all things in life, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky, and eventually her blades started to wear down. I didn't realize this happens, but it makes sense when you think about it. I have no clue about these things, but apparently people on her team were commenting on how small her blades had become. I took them into Stateline and they said they were probably fine but did appear to have some wear. Nothing urgent, but something to keep in mind. As if I needed anything more to stoke my OCD. I immediately set about finding her a new pair of skates, and this time she was on board.
I decided to get her an upgrade like N's skates, which have blades that are replaceable. When you get cheaper skates like A's old pair, you can replace the blade but it requires replacing the entire bottom manifold. Not only is this somewhat involved, but it costs as much as a new pair of skates. I figured I'd get her a higher end pair that would not only last longer but had a replaceable blade. It seemed like a good solution.
And talk about timing, I was over at Stateline last week and they were having a sale on hockey equipment. Usually this means selective items, but when I asked, they said everything was on sale. How could I pass this up? I bought her the higher end skates that she had tried on and figured I could return them if things weren't all peachy, which turned out to be the case. The thing is, they were a wide size, and because they are higher end, they are made to last, i.e., they have a harder boot that withstands more abuse.
She liked them, but I could tell she wasn't completely stoked with them. Since we were paying full price, I wanted her to make sure she got what she wanted, and clearly this wasn't it. I realized that this was only go to work if she went in and tried them on again. The guys at Stateline all know me well because we are in there about twice a week, but they never give me a hard time and they are always knowledgeable and helpful. I love that place. They took the skates back, no problem (they had not been used, after all), and we tried several on until A found ones that she really liked. Her old skates were not wide sized, so we went with a regular width, and she liked the skates that were a step down because they had a softer, more comfortable boot. Granted, the blade was not replaceable, but since they were a step down, they were cheaper. That speaks volumes to me.
Now this is where you realize the value of supporting a local store is just a really good thing. Not only did they take the skates back no question asked and give me a full refund, but they sold me the cheaper pair and still gave me the discount even though the sale was long over. AND, they threw in a free pair of laces, which is a drop in the bucket but it's the thought that counts, right? They didn't have to offer it to me.
A's new skates were definitely a step up from her old ones, and one indicator of that the ability to heat mold the boot. It's not a big deal, but it's kind of cool, especially when you're a kid and being cool is tantamount to existence. A's new skates were heat moldable, which Stateline takes care of whn you buy new skates (they have this special oven which is really cool), not to mention a free sharpening. I tried heat molding skates at home and I think I burned them.
For the final act of this long and sordid tale, which has gone on much longer than I thought it would, A got to try out her new skates during practice, and she loved them. Like I said, they are much nicer than her old skates, which were sort of a bargain-basement purchase (I know, my Mentor and the Amazing PR Man are shaking their heads in disapproval), so the blades are nicer and the boot probably feels better. She liked them and I think she skated beautifully on them. She came off the ice with glowing reviews, and I'm glad that she has a nice pair of skates to continue playing hockey in. Plus, I'm thinking her feet probably won't grow too much from here on in, so she can use these for awhile. If she'd embraced the more expensive ones, blade replacement would have been easier, but kudos to her for going with what she wanted. Plus, it saved yours truly a fair amount of money, and as you all know, I love when that happens.
Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Joel Desrochers for the pic.