Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Hockey Garage, Williston, North Dakota

What you are looking at is the only place in Williston, North Dakota, perhaps for quite a ways around, where a person can buy skates, or have those skates sharpened.  Think about that for a minute.  25,000-50,000 people in the frozen north, one guy selling ice skates out of his garage.

Before Christmas, we decided to buy Nicholas some skates; we wanted to sign him up for skating lessons.  We werent alone.  Of course we went to Walmart.  As I write, they have an entire section for bicycles, and a wall full of skateboards, but no ice skates, and not much to do with sleds either.  Temperatures in Williston lately have ranged between -30 and -7, with a wind chill well below that.  This will last until March or April.  Situated next door to Canada, this is the land of hockey, boys hockey, and girls hockey, too.  At some point in the year, some places in town flood parts of parking lots to make ice rinks.  The local college, Williston State College, was 2013 NJCAA Hockey National Champions.  This is a hockey town.

So, after Wal-mart, we tried a few other places, some of the sport shops (they sell running and golf gear, but no skates).  No luck.  We were shocked.  Seriously, no ice skates?  I would think there would be ice skate kiosks, ice skate vending machines, boutiques.  Finally, we were resigned to "well, I guess we'll just drive to Minot or get them online".  That's when a friend said "just call the guy with the skate garage".  We said, "what?", and our friend said, "yeah, the guy that sells the hockey gear out of his garage."

So, it turns out, this is no mere guy that sells hockey gear out of a normal garage.  When I went there the second time to get skates for me too, the skate garage guy told me the story... Apparently, Home of Economy (this is like the Walmart of North Dakota, but better; imagine Walmart with an entire section of cowboy boots and eclectic stuff) used to have a huge skate section; he was the manager.  When they had a change of ownership in 1999, the new owners said "no skate shop", and suddenly the guy was out.  He tried to find another venue, but nobody was interested.  Enter Duffy's Hockey and Sport from Minot.  They connected with the guy to supply equipment, and the Hockey Garage was born.  And now, he is on the only one in Williston, and quite a ways around, selling and sharpening skates.

As I was standing there watching him sharpen the skates, Ron Raymond (aka The Skate Guy) told me "hmmm..... I guess there must be some new skating lessons.. I've had all these folks in here with little kids buying skates all of a sudden."  Go Ron!

No comments: