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In the Zone: Q&A with Arlington's Sports Etc.

Since 1980, Sports Etc. on Massachusetts Ave. in Arlington Heights has been serving the sporting and hockey community of Arlington, Greater Boston and beyond.

In this edition of Storefront Stories, we face off with Paul Stanton, owner of Sports Etc. He shares with us some of the big changes he’s seen in the sport of hockey, and why the people of Arlington make Sports Etc. their go-to sports equipment store.

Have a read and learn more about this local Arlington business that is such a playmaker in contributing to the strength of our community!

Q&A With Arlington's Sports Etc.

What makes Arlington such a great location for your business?

Arlington has always had strong ties to the sport of hockey. This is a credit to an excellent youth hockey program, coupled with the long storied success of the Arlington High School, and Arlington Catholic hockey programs. The popularity of hockey in our community has allowed our business to thrive.

How has your store evolved to accommodate changing tastes/needs in sports?

The store really started out as a general sporting goods store, which catered to all team sports ranging from football to hockey. But it quickly became evident that Arlington and its surrounding communities had a strong hockey tradition, so there was definitely a need for a hockey store. Since then, the store has morphed into one of the leading hockey retailers in New England.

We also have a wide selection of equipment for baseball, lacrosse, field hockey and soccer. Recently, lacrosse and soccer in particular, have seen continuous growth in Arlington, so we have transitioned our focus a little bit to accommodate those growing sports.

How do you differentiate yourself from other sports supply stores? Have you had to address online competition?

We try to separate ourselves from our competition through an unmatched customer service experience. We feel that we know more about properly fitting equipment than any other sporting goods store in the area, and we try to use that knowledge to give the customer the best experience possible. Each staff member is trained extensively and every customer that enters the store is greeted and offered help with whatever they are looking to purchase. We have always had the focus that proper fit is more important than just making a sale. That is what keeps our customers coming back.

Yes, we have had to address online competition. We did a major overhaul of our website within the past couple years to cater to the online customer. We have had good success since the launch of the new website, and we are shipping orders all over the US.

You are primarily a hockey outfitter, but you also sell other sporting goods. What is your top-selling hockey item?

Hockey skates.

What is your top-selling non-hockey item?

Soccer/Baseball cleats.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the sport of hockey in the past 10 years or so?

One of the biggest changes has been in skate technology. Breaking in a skate used to require skating in them for weeks at a time before they became comfortable. Now, most skates are “heat moldable,” which has helped eliminate the sometimes tedious break-in process, and in turn, has made skates much more comfortable for the customer. The heating process allows for the skate to shape around a person’s foot for a truly custom fit.  

Who are your typical customers?

Our typical customer is usually a hockey parent, who is a repeat customer. We have a very loyal following, and often see the same customer numerous times in one week for skate sharpening or other equipment maintenance.

Who is your favorite all-time Bruin?

Cam Neely. He embodied everything you want in a Boston Bruin. He was tough, worked hard, and could score goals. It also doesn’t hurt that he has been shopping at Sports Etc. with his kids for years.

What is your vision for the future of the business? Where would you like to see it in 5 years?

We would like to see the sport of hockey grow. We are lucky to live in an area that has strong ties to the hockey community, but we would love to see the sport grow on a broader level so that more of today’s youth are exposed to it. This would help our business grow enough to potentially open up another location to help strengthen and build our brand.