It’s that time of year again. The Wellesley Applejacks and the Elmira Sugar Kings have both opened their training camps, OHL training camps also opened this week, and in the coming days and weeks tryouts will begin for rep-level hockey clubs throughout the townships.
Yes, hockey is back, and for many players that might mean digging out the equipment from the basement and maybe asking for a new stick or set of shoulder pads. One of the most important pieces of equipment that shouldn’t be overlooked, however, is a players skates, and good care of those skates includes making sure they’re properly sharpened – something Marv Schaus knows well.
On Sept. 5, Schaus will be opening his second business, The Sharp Shop, to take care of that very problem. After spending the past eight years sharpening blades for his friends and family, “I’m going to start charging for it now,” he laughed.
Located at 112-D Bonnie Cres. in Elmira, the shop – which shares space with his other company, Gro-Pro Landscaping – is a seasonal endeavour that he hopes to fill his slower winter months with.
He says that in a hockey-mad town like Elmira, it was a perfect fit.
“We’ve always had a passion for it, my wife and I both play,” said Shaus, whose wife Stephanie is the sister of former NHLer Jamie Wright, who spent last season playing in the Swiss league.
“He’s probably one of the main reasons that we have such a passion for it, he drew us to that for sure,” he added.
The emphasis at The Sharp Shop will be on skate sharpening and selling tarps used to help build outdoor ice rinks, another winter hobby of Schaus for his 11-year-old twin children, Teegan and Cade, who both play rep hockey in Woolwich.
He will also sell hockey memorabilia and collectibles such as posters, t-shirts, mouth guards, water bottles and mini-sticks – a personal favourite of his kids.
“When they went to John Mahood for school, at lunch they had a mini-stick league, so that’s where we got the idea for the mini-sticks from,” he laughed, noting that although the sticks and water bottles might appeal more to the younger crowd, players of any age are welcome to get their skates sharpened at his shop.
Aside from helping to fill their slower hours during the winter months, Schaus hopes that his two kids will take an interest in the store as they grow up, and that it will provide a good place for them to work in the coming years. His three employees with Gro-Pro could pick up some hours here and there by working in the store during the slower months.
He intentionally does not carry hockey sticks, helmets or other sporting equipment because he said he did not want to create any competition for other companies in town who rely on those sales to stay in business.
“We just wanted to have something that we could do for about eight months of the year when we’re a little slower.”
One unique aspect of the store is his plan to include a drop-box for skates. Customers can drop them off in the evening, and pick them up the next morning, sharpened and ready to go, he said.
“I’ve seen it at a few other arenas and I thought that it was a great idea. I’ll have a foam pad at the bottom of the drop-box so they don’t have to worry about damaging their skates.”
Despite having the experience of running his own business for the past 25 years, Schaus admits that there is always some apprehension when setting out on something new. Aside from the hefty financial investment, he said there is always the worry that customers won’t like what he offers.
“[You] are just hoping that you’re picking things that people are actually going to like, and making sure that the themes are good ideas,” he said.
Yet in a town like Elmira – which boasted two OMHA titles last season, the Ontario Junior B champion Elmira Sugar Kings and numerous professional hockey players – chances are any business related to the sport is a pretty safe bet.
Following the Sept. 5 opening, The Sharp Shop will be in operation Monday to Friday, 12-6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12-3 p.m., as well as the 24-hour drop box for skates.