When Cheyenne Sports went out of business in the fall of 2011, Hope was left with a major void. The town could get by with one less motel, restaurant or gas station — but one less sports shop meant no sports shop between Agassiz and Princeton.
If you needed a puck, you were out of luck. Fishing gear? None of that here. A tube for your bike? Take a hike.
After a year of doing without, Hope now has a partial answer to the problem. Brad Pelletier, the former Cheyenne owner, is back on his feet and operating under a new name: Sixth Avenue Sports.
His new shop — across from the bowing alley parking lot on Sixth Avenue — is more of a sports boutique than the wide-ranging store he used to operate… but it’s a start and Pelletier says he’s hoping to build things back up.
The last year has given Pelletier time to assess his future path.
“I realized that I have a lot of experience in a very narrow market,” he said.
When no one else stepped up and filled the sports void during the summer months, Pelletier got moving on his opportunity.
“I’m primarily focusing on labour enterprises, to start with,” he said.
It’s a one-man operation at present, keying on the skills and experience Pelletier built up in his time at the other store. There, he started as a bike mechanic and eventually took over ownership from Bruce and Janice McDonald.
When Cheyenne Sports closed, there was nowhere to get your swimming pool or spa water tested locally. You had to go to Chilliwack. Now: Pelletier can do your testing and supply the chemicals to bring your water back in balance.
Former Cheyenne bike mechanic Eric Laaback was doing repairs out of his house on an ad hoc basis during the past year but now there’s a storefront with regular hours and a wide stock of parts.
Staff at the Hope Arena have been able to sharpen skates for many years, though they can often be busy with their other duties, such as cleaning the ice or doing other maintenance… meaning you may have to wait. Now, Pelletier has a skate sharpener in the front of the store. You can drop your skates off, or wait while they get tuned up.
“I also have a rivet machine, so I can repair skates,” added Pelletier. “I can also replace the blades and holders.”
With the hockey season in full swing, Pelletier has brought in stock to answer immediate needs of players. There’s lots of stick and sock tape, skate laces and neck guards.
“I’ve got some sticks,” said Pelletier, “enough, if someone’s come to Hope for a tournament and they’re in a dire need.”
When the bike season returns in the spring, Pelletier said he plans to bring in BMX bikes to meet the demand for riders who use the local bike park.
Pelletier also offers a uniform service for teams or businesses, supplying cresting and numbering for shirts, hats, jackets and jerseys.
As the days roll by, Pelletier said he’s getting feedback from what the townsfolk are looking for.
“People have come in, asking for golf balls, tennis balls, basketballs and inflating needles,” he said. “I’m keeping a list and I’ll see what makes sense to keep in stock.
“At the old shop, I had as many as 70 or 80 suppliers. Here, so far, it’s only five… but we’ll maybe build it up to 10.”
What he can’t meet at present are the hunting, fishing, footwear and apparel needs of the community.
“Those are inventory-heavy,” said Pelletier. “As we expand, we’ll see what the town needs and what the market will bear.”
He hasn’t finalized his hours but Pelletier said, “I’ll tailor the hours to serve the season we’re in. For example, if there’s a tournament weekend, I’ll be open longer.”
Pelletier is heartened by the number of well-wishers who have been popping in to visit with him at the new store.
“This past week, I’ve realized how much I missed the people,” he said. “They make it all worthwhile.”