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Old 08-04-2015, 04:58 PM   #1
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Pro Hockey Life

As some of you guys may already know, a Pro Hockey Life will open at the Tsawwassen Mills mall next October (2016).


I got into a conversation with a friend of mine who also works for the company (and is on this board) about what would PHL have to do to win over the business from independents in the GVRD and we came up with a few things.

1. Authentic, knowledgeable staff...this one is easy since the store only sells hockey, its easy to only hire passionate hockey staff.
2. Good selection of products, more depth and breadth than independents
3. Competitive pricing and generous return policy.

I am curious to get feedback from you guys on what it would take for YOU to shop at Pro Hockey Life over your local independent?
Do you foresee this store succeeding in its location and in the GVRD?

Thanks for your feedback!
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Last edited by skiiipi; 08-04-2015 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 08-04-2015, 11:05 PM   #2
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If PHL can lure the good employees away from their current shops that would be deadly... many shop guys and fitters have built quite the following over the years.

All competitors will have decent PK and will price match. It's all about the people. The level of service and relationship building gets people coming back. It's easy to tell which employees genuinely want to be there and those who are there just for the paycheck/staff discount.
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Old 08-05-2015, 01:49 AM   #3
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service service and service
one thing for sure, Max Performance Skate Shop has won me over in terms of getting my skates sharpened. Friendly guy too

I guess the only real service I got was from The Hockey Shop fitting skates.
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Old 08-05-2015, 08:39 AM   #4
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I've never been impressed with the PHL pricing online. Let's face it, selection is the same at the big stores (hockey shop, et al), and service is as simple as "can I get you a pair of skates in your size?"

It will be nice to have another competitor in the lower mainland, but will it help? Bauer and Brian's have so much retail price protection in place that you won't find a better deal at any of their retailers. So what reason do we have to make the change?
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Old 08-05-2015, 12:09 PM   #5
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I guess my question would be... What would it take for you guys to make the change?

PHL is owned by the same company that owns sportchek, but will be run differently as it is under a different division of fglsports.
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Old 08-05-2015, 01:12 PM   #6
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TBH i'll probably keep going to Ice level in richmond since its so close to home. The only time i'd go farther is for sales and deals on clearance. Mind you if PHL has a bigger selection of kids gear i'd make the trip out just because shopping and finding two of everything for twins is a bitch...(and in general kids gear that doesnt have to be ordered in)
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Old 08-05-2015, 01:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by originalhypa View Post
I've never been impressed with the PHL pricing online. Let's face it, selection is the same at the big stores (hockey shop, et al), and service is as simple as "can I get you a pair of skates in your size?"

It will be nice to have another competitor in the lower mainland, but will it help? Bauer and Brian's have so much retail price protection in place that you won't find a better deal at any of their retailers. So what reason do we have to make the change?
MAP is merely the advertised price. In-store can be a different story.

Service is much more than grabbing a pair of skates in someone's size. You have to take the customer into consideration. Budget? Skill level? Someone who only wants to go public skating with his kids is not likely going to spend the same amount of money as a kid playing Junior A.

Measure the foot and and take into account the type of gauge you're using and for skates that may be built on over/undersized lasts (good PK). Don't base the size purely on what the customer is wearing now or god forbid, their shoe size. Heat mold/punch if necessary.

Now it goes to sharpening. Most people aren't aware that different hollows are even available. Will they even ask what kind of hollow the customer wants or just send them out the door with the standard house cut? Can they work with the customer and help dial in a particular hollow?

What about the after sales service? What happens when a customer comes back and says things like "The skates hurt" or "I'm not happy with my purchase." What will the shop/employee do at that point?
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Old 08-05-2015, 01:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skiiipi View Post
I guess my question would be... What would it take for you guys to make the change?
For me to drive out there instead of heading to Surrey, they would have to have something special like poach every knowledgeable worker in the area. Prices will always be price matched at THS (I've never had any issues) so lower prices at PHL will likely never make me change my habits.

Now if they offered technical service (glove repalming, goalie mask refurbs and repairs) that's comparable to the service out east, then you'll have my business. As much as I hate shipping my gear out east for such services, if the work is done by a novice locally I'll always pay the extra 60-100 bucks to ship out east for the professional services there.

I'm always amazed that, for the huge hockey market that Western Canada is, they have almost no local professionals for glove repalming (Scoffs excluded, but their work wasn't great) or goalie equipment refurbishment/repair. For example, there's a guy at THS (I'll leave his name out) that is the go to for any goalie equipment repair or mod. If he goes somewhere else, I'll follow.

I'm currently in the market to refurbish my goalie mask which means shipping it out east to a specialized store. I've called every local hockey store and they've all told me that they could take it, but they would just ship it out east on my behalf. Why isn't there someone out west?

As I said earlier, for PHL to not flop/not just break even, they have to offer something highly specialized. One such thing would be a local repair service that rivals places in the Toronto area.

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Old 08-05-2015, 02:11 PM   #9
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Unless there were deals too hard to pass up or I happen to be out that way, I don't see myself driving to Tsawwassen for my hockey gear. I know what I like and don't normally need help choosing stuff.

Nothing will compare to the Hockey Shop back in the 90's before they were bought by Source so I'm indifferent to shops these days. I usually go to the local one in South Surrey simply out of convenience.
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Old 08-05-2015, 03:36 PM   #10
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The following is just my guess,

Knowledgeable and passionate staff should be something that PHL can offer, services such as skate punching and fitting will be something that PHL can offer.

Wide assortment of products is a given, considering it will be a 30000 sqft store with nothing but hockey.

In terms of specialized services like glove repalming... I dont think PHL will dab into that market.

Quality skate sharpening, I'm sure PHL will be able to offer.

Generous return and exchange policy will be an advantage of a bigger chain... They can "afford" to take things back stuff that's not technically warranty in the name of customer service.

The one thing I noticed after working in Alberta for the past few years is that people in BC are not as crazy about hockey.... Here in alberta, it seems like every parent genuinely believes that their kid will be the next Crosby. I've never sold so many $500-600 skates in size 1 and 2s and Jr sticks at the $200+ range until coming to Alberta. It really shocks me how much parents are willing to spend in their kids to make them competitive.
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Old 08-05-2015, 04:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skiiipi View Post
The following is just my guess,

Knowledgeable and passionate staff should be something that PHL can offer, services such as skate punching and fitting will be something that PHL can offer.

Wide assortment of products is a given, considering it will be a 30000 sqft store with nothing but hockey.

In terms of specialized services like glove repalming... I dont think PHL will dab into that market.

Quality skate sharpening, I'm sure PHL will be able to offer.

Generous return and exchange policy will be an advantage of a bigger chain... They can "afford" to take things back stuff that's not technically warranty in the name of customer service.

The one thing I noticed after working in Alberta for the past few years is that people in BC are not as crazy about hockey.... Here in alberta, it seems like every parent genuinely believes that their kid will be the next Crosby. I've never sold so many $500-600 skates in size 1 and 2s and Jr sticks at the $200+ range until coming to Alberta. It really shocks me how much parents are willing to spend in their kids to make them competitive.
I can buy that. There are many more options in terms of sports here in Van due to milder winters. Also, hockey is expensive as all hell for a kid. I know I won't be pushing mine through hockey unless they absolutely beg me.

In my humble opinion, putting a PHL in what's possibly one of the furthest reaches of the GVRD is going to cause it to fail. In terms of hockey selection- THS/Cyclone/Larry's all carry the top half of each company's product lines, so PHL will likely not have something that you can't get closer. Having more stock is another, but that means customers are making the trek in an emergency situation. Sure PHL can carry more bottom-end gear to fill up the 30k sqft store, but nobody but beginners and financially-strapped parents are buying that stuff.

By not differentiating themselves from Sport Chek/HX and local independant dealers, there's very little incentive to drive to PHL when you can likely get equal-better service closer to more populated city-centers. As everyone else has pointed it, without a defining trait to cause us to want to head to PHL I'll only visit when I'm in the area to see the novelty in such a large store.

It's too bad they couldn't put it in Metrotown or somewhere closer because that would make things more interesting (at least for me).
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Old 08-05-2015, 05:37 PM   #12
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This is all very good feedback and I do truly appreciate it.
I do am wondering how they differentiate themselves from a bigger sportchek store with a decent size hockey expert department.... This store will be side by side with the new sportchek opening in tsawwassen Mills. Across these two stores are part of the same family, but PHL will still need to offer something that's above and beyond a sportchek.

I have see an expanded casual clothing line such as Gongshow, but again while in Alberta that stuff is like gold, I don't know how well it will do in BC.

The thought has crossed my mind to possibly work at that store when it opens, but now these feedback is making me second guess that decision.. Probably better to just stick with Sportchek Haha.
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Old 08-05-2015, 07:09 PM   #13
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I think M3thods hit the nail on the head.
The biggest issue is that it's almost at the border. By the time I make the trek to Tswassenn, I could have ordered the items online and had it shipped to PT. Roberts or Blaine.
Maybe the Richmond/Surrey crowd may benefit, but then you also have Cyclone/THS/Icelevel to compete with.

I can tell you why hockey isn't as big here as it is in Alberta. 2 factors, people are having less kids, mild weather so that kids have more options for sports to play.
Other than the last 2 winters for a couple of days, the winters generally isn't could enough to play pond hockey.
In most parts of Alberta/and all the other provinces as you head east, most families have a back yard rink or has a neighbour that does.

But for the parents who do have kids enrolled in hockey, I know a bunch that take hockey seriously and are buying their kids $280+ top of the line one piece sticks, $600 skates, etc.... They also enroll their kids in skating camps, hockey schools, skills camp, personal trainers, and shooting camps and summer tournements to play with other kids from other leauges.
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Old 08-05-2015, 09:03 PM   #14
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Lol my first time playing pond hockey I got frost bite... Lol
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Old 08-05-2015, 09:08 PM   #15
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If im correct, the local stores pump money into local development programs here in BC as well

ie. Scoffs and BWC have something.. ICE LEVEL with Richmond Minor... etc...
not sure if this is legit or not.. hhaha
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Old 08-05-2015, 10:15 PM   #16
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I have yet to find a skate pricey or not that doesn't hurt my feet for the first few times I wear them(even with molding) it's not until they're "broken" in that they start feeling comfortable... Mind my feet are naturally flat and wide so that may have something to do with it ymmv
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Old 08-06-2015, 12:03 AM   #17
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cant see value in making trek out that far. same goes for the hockey shop when scoffs and cyclones are closer
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Old 08-06-2015, 12:47 AM   #18
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What stood out for me at the PHL in Vaughan was their Rapid Shot machine. How do people try out sticks before they buy them now? Stickhandle a street hockey or smart hockey ball around? How many sticks have you purchased because it felt good in the store just to realize you hated it on the ice?

I believe there are only two places locally that will let you shoot before you buy. Hockey Shop and Base. The advantage of having a Rapid Shot machine over Hockey Shop and Base's setup is it'll spit out a performance report for each session. Rather than buying a stick just based purely on gut feelings, the raw numbers can help in the purchasing decision. Who else has these machines locally? Rogers Arena and NSWC? Neither sells gear.

On top of the people they hire, if PHL can bring a similar experience to shopping at Golf Town I can see them being pretty successful.

1. Let the customers try before they buy
2. If they are fitted for something and end up not liking it, 30 day grace period for returns even if they used it
3. Trade in promos
4. Lessons (like others mentioned, the parents of elite level kids will spend the money on as many camps/lessons/ice times as possible)
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Old 08-06-2015, 02:52 AM   #19
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Mickz, the 4 things you mentioned is totally doable.
Thanks for the feedback.

I would assume the phl will have a rapid shot, given crossiron has one and this store will be modelled after that one.
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Old 08-06-2015, 04:14 AM   #20
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OMG, a RapidShot machine to test while buying sticks would be unreal!
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Old 08-06-2015, 08:30 AM   #21
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The reason I wont be going there and many others is most likely the drive is too far for most...Cyclone and THS are more convenient destinations..
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Old 08-06-2015, 10:23 AM   #22
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If I could trade in equipment for a fair amount, I'd definitely think about going to PHL for upgrades.

I'm not expecting 50% return or something like that. But if the dollar amount offsets the hassle of going to CL, you can bet you'd get a lot of visits.

On top of that, you would have a used section that could be affordable for less fortunate families while still being able to offer a semblance of a "warranty" (maybe half the return policy for new, or even 10 days would suffice for a used product).

One other service PHL could offer is a legit equipment cleaning service. I know people can hack a bathtub or use some archaic machine somewhere locally. For someone like me though without a bathtub, this would prove to be difficult. If you gotta fill the 30k sqft, some industrial cleaning machines and a stick testing zone would be a great start to getting attention in Vancouver.
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Old 08-06-2015, 10:55 AM   #23
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I don't think any of the existing phl have a professional cleaning machine, but that's great feedback.

As for equipment trade in, Jr skates will be something that can be traded in for sure, as for equipments and sr. Stuff, very interesting feedback. I guess for it to work the store will need to have the professional cleaning machine or else the "used" section of the store won't smell too pleasant.
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Old 08-06-2015, 11:17 AM   #24
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Quote:
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I don't think any of the existing phl have a professional cleaning machine, but that's great feedback.

As for equipment trade in, Jr skates will be something that can be traded in for sure, as for equipments and sr. Stuff, very interesting feedback. I guess for it to work the store will need to have the professional cleaning machine or else the "used" section of the store won't smell too pleasant.
I'm not going to lie- I didn't see the correlation until you brought it up. Makes it easier to pitch I'm sure lol
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Old 08-07-2015, 11:33 AM   #25
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As a goalie, even if they have a dedicated goalie department like at The Hockey Shop, I would be hard pressed to just make a change. I'm a loyal customer, and the guys at THS have always treated me right.

As mentioned before, the service is top notch, and when I was in the market for new skates, Dawson @ THS spent hours with me finding the right pair (and I still thank him every time I'm there because my feet have never been more comfortable).

For skate sharpening services, location is a big thing. I wont drive all the way to THS for just skate sharpening, as it pretty much takes up my afternoon (because I end up shopping there lol). Ice Level is 5 mins from my house, and they have always done a spectacular job with my skates. They are the only 2 places I trust my skates with.
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