**Quick update on Cheapskates: The storefront at 19th and Dunbar will be closing in October 2009. The building has been sold. As a result they will operate only one store, the one at 3644 West 16th Ave, and this will affect what they are able to consign. Call them directly for more information: 604-222-1125
I noticed the most wonderful sign this morning – Free Ski and Snowboard Boots! It wasn’t in a laneway but rather at a local sports consignment store called Cheapskates. They seemed to have a terrific selection of all types of sizes and makes. Definitely a great find for anyone wanting to learn to ski or snowboard this season. This way you can save some money on the boots while being able to rent the rest of the gear. Also, I have learned that by putting money into a pair of inserts, that can make any boot work.
Cheapskates has been a regular fixture in the Dunbar neighbourhood for over 20 years. What started out with one little store has grown into a formidable presence at the corner of 16th and Dunbar. There used to be four locations but now there are two, both located within walking distance: Cheapskates One (3644 W16th Ave, Vancouver) and Cheapskates 19 (3496 Dunbar St., Vancouver). Here you can pretty much find every kind of used sports equipment. Barry Gilpin, the owner, likes to think of this as his own sporting goods department store -“but one with sidewalks instead of escalators taking you to the different departments.”
Barry has been a sports enthusiast most of his life and after having accumulated excessive amounts of sports equipment, he decided that there had to be a way to recycle and resell all of it. He had previously been in the real estate business but decided to start his own sporting goods business after he had swapped a house in Gibsons for a storefront business in Vancouver.
Times were different back then, people bought secondhand because of necessity and it was not as socially acceptable to purchase used goods as it is today. Barry remembers one woman who came from across town to buy used equipment for her kids and liked that it was out of the way, none of her friends or family knew that she was buying things secondhand. But he also started the business at a time when recycling was becoming more prominent. And this changed everything.
After a few years in business he outgrew the first storefront location, but instead of going after a larger building he decided to open up a second store and split up the different kinds of sporting equipment. This led to Cheapskates Too at the corner of Dunbar and 17th, and two years later Cheapskates Fore a few doors down, and finally Cheapskates 19 at Dunbar and 19th.
The stores evolved into departments, each with its own specific type of inventory: Cheapskates 1 -skating, hockey, soccer, baseball and exercise equipment; Cheapskates Too -bicycles and parts; Cheapskates Fore -golf, racquets, and inline skates; and Cheapskates 19 -skis, snowboards, snowshoes, camping equipment, and ski clothes. This allowed Barry and his staff to keep better track on the inventory and to become very knowledgeable in each area.
Everything is sold on consignment, and the prices are discounted over time. Barry also made a decision in the beginning to only mail out the cheques so as to discourage people from trying to sell stolen merchandise. He currently has thousands of consignees who cover a large geographic area including the Kootenay’s, Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, and even the U.S. And he has a very diverse client base.
According to Barry, “no two days are ever the same. The stock is always changing and this keeps it interesting.” He is very proud of the business that he and his wife have built together and he loves what he does and he does it well. “We try to focus on what we do and then do the best job we can with what we have.”
He has also made a strong commitment to the community and has created a unique way of donating to charity. He has a wonderful system in place where people can drop off used sports equipment and then have the proceeds of the sale go to a charity of their choice. He currently has accounts set up for the Boys and Girls Clubs, Amnesty International, KidSport, Heart and Stroke Foundation, Junior League Sunshine Wheels, and the Hearing Impaired Foundation. But he can also arrange to send the money to different charities if you provide him with all the necessary contact information.