‘Play it Back’ with a slush fund for kids who need gear at no cost

Midcoast Sports Exchange is Rockport’s newest consignment store for recycled equipment, recreation gear

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 2:15pm

    ROCKPORT—A new Midcoast consignment shop has recently popped up as a center for used and new sports equipment and recreational gear.  Midcoast Sports Exchange, owned and run by Justin Hovey, is fulfilling a community need. His Route 90 location (534 West Street, Rockport) is centrally located between two Rockport sports hubs: Midcoast Recreation Center and Pitch, a community indoor sports complex, and two school districts, Five Town Community School District and RSU 13.

    Having grown up in Camden and Rockport, he raised his boys in Oregon, but returned to the Midcoast two years ago.

    “I raised two boys who were into sports,” he said, noting, like every parent, his house accumulated a lot of sports equipment and gear that could have gotten re-used once the kids outgrew it.

    The store has everything children, teens, and adults could want, from used hockey skates and snowboards to consigned clothing to new socks, laces, mouth guards, and water bottles.

    “I’ve always coached sports and love sports,” he said. “I played soccer growing up and so did my boys, pond hockey, wrestling, lacrosse, baseball, all of that.”

    Though the store is small, it’s jam-packed with equipment for each season. However, sports equipment isn’t the only inventory; Hovey plans to offer more camping and fishing gear when spring arrives.

    “My stepdad was a Master Maine Guide for 30 years so I grew up hunting and fishing in the area,” he said.

    His consignment philosophy is simple: “If it has life left in it, and was something you used to either have fun outside or play sports with, I’m able to turn around and sell that for you,” he said.

    It’s a smart business model that repurposes items that would ordinarily be left to gather dust in the attic or given away to donation stores. Instead of buying new equipment for every stage of a child’s growth, Midcoast Sports Exchange’s aim is to reuse items and give them additional life.

    “There’s always someone who can use something that you’ve handed down,” he said.

    With MRC nearby and ice hockey season starting, Hovey realized there was no nearby place to buy mouthguards, socks, athletic supporters, or tape. He also plans to supply new products, such as soccer cleats, in his store to help support the year-round athletic activities in the community.

    “What if you don’t have what you need or you forgot it at home and needed it tonight?” he asked. “I wanted to make it easy on the athletes and on the parents.”

    With a small store, he’s already eying a bigger space.

    “I’m not going to have 10 options for soccer cleats right now,” he said. “But with a larger space I plan to have one brand in every size.”

    As a parent, Hovey has empathy for parents and kids who are dealing with tough times, especially in a 40-year-high period of inflation. For them, Hovey has a couple of innovative plans in the works.

    “Some people will come in and donate items, but I don’t feel comfortable keeping the money, so I’ve started a slush fund for kids who want to play sports but can’t afford it,” he said.

    “Play it Back” is a program he has started to allow athletic directors and coaches in the area to access if a student on the team doesn’t have the money to buy new equipment. “This is for the kid who shows up to practice every day, tries really hard, but doesn’t have the gear,” he said. School affiliates can get in touch with Hovey about more details.

    People in the area who have sports equipment or recreational gear (no firearms) to sell on consignment, may contact Hovey at info@mserockport.com

    For more information visit: www.mserockport.com or on Facebook

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com