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Play it Again Sports opens in Baxter

With new and used equipment, the store is offering specials throughout Memorial Day weekend and into next week.

Mike Hoff works on paperwork at the counter
Mike Hoff, owner of the Play It Again Sports store on Elder Drive in Baxter, works at the counter with D.J. Johnson checking on equipment Wednesday, May 24, 2023, in preparation of the grand opening Thursday and specials throughout the Memorial Day weekend.
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — If outgrown or little used sports or fitness equipment is gathering dust, if getting fit is a new goal on a budget or if a young player needs new gear, a new store in Baxter is set to meet those needs.

Mike and Betsy Hoff opened Play It Again Sports Thursday, May 25, on Elder Drive in Baxter near Costco. The store is in the Northwoods Plaza, a strip mall of shops just south of Home Depot.

Play It Again Sports has new inventory and used items that make the quality criteria. For an area known for golf, clubs and bags of all sizes for children and adults filled one portion of the store. Around the corner were row upon row upon row of hockey skates with additional hockey equipment.

Row of hockey skates cover a wall
Play It Again Sports has row upon row of hockey skates. The store includes high-end hockey sticks and offers skate sharpening.
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Hoff understands how expensive it can be to have a child involved in sports. His 12-year-old son plays hockey, baseball and football.

“Kids are expensive and sports are expensive and it’s helping relieve some of that burden,” Mike Hoff said as he worked in the store Wednesday afternoon. “There is not a place in town where you can buy a high-end hockey stick so people have to drive to St. Cloud for that."

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Hoff said he’ll offer those hockey needs closer to home as well as offer skate sharpening.

Play It Again Sports announced the store’s grand opening celebration, starting Thursday, noting “athletes of every age will soon discover a place to sell their quality used sports and fitness equipment including football equipment, baseball gloves and bats, hockey gear, golf clubs, soccer gear, lacrosse equipment, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, benches, weights, and more at Play It Again Sports.”

Golf clubs and bags fill a section in the store
One of the goals with Play It Again Sports is to reuse and recycle and keep items out of the landfill. Play It Again Sports has new inventory and used items that make the quality criteria. For an area known for golf, clubs and bags of all sizes for children and adults filled one portion of the store.<br/>
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Hoff, who was a senior diabetes care specialist for more than 10 years, said he gave up a decent career to take the risk to run his own business. Hoff may also be familiar to lakes area residents as a past Nisswa City Council member and a past chairman of the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association Board of Directors.

One of the goals with Play It Again Sports is to reuse and recycle and keep items out of the landfill. A lot of equipment young people grow out of is still in perfectly good condition to be used again. Other purchases may be for exercise equipment that never quite meets its full utilization as the buyer hoped, but that can create a discount opportunity for someone else.

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“A lot of people feel bad if they use a pair of cleats for a year and they are basically brand new and it’s like, ‘What do I do with them?’” Hoff said. “Somebody else is looking for a decent pair of cleats and not have to spend the money on them or whatever it is — it’s just something they’ve outgrown and it’s perfectly good, why throw it away? Keep the stuff out of the landfill — it’s sustainability.”

Store exterior
The Play It Again Sports store is in the Northwoods Plaza by Costco and Home Depot, at 13495 Elder Drive S., Suite 160, in Baxter.<br/><br/><br/>
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

For people who want to sell their used sports or fitness equipment that is still in good shape, the store offers a place to do that without having to set up a meeting on social media with a buyer who may or may not show up. The store buys items for cash or store credit on the spot and will be offering trade options.

The sporting equipment in the store runs the gamut from pickleball to disc golf and water sports, boxing, soccer, and baseball. There are stability balls, weights, yoga mats, used bikes, lacrosse, treadmills and exercise equipment and more. Inventory also includes skis and snowboards. And the store is always buying equipment year-round. The inventory is also ever changing.

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Hoff said the store has local school team colors and customization on jerseys, hats and socks. Hoff said they are competitive with big boxes by drawing on the buying power of 300 Play It Again Sports stores for pricing. Customers have the ability to purchase online and pickup in the store or have items sent directly to them.

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Store employee D.J. Johnson said the location near Costco should also be a help as they’ve already had customers come in from Bemidji who were in Baxter for other shopping. The store, Johnson said, will also give people options when they’ve been driving to St. Cloud or Duluth to get what they need.

“We cater to families. We are a community based business,” Johnson said.

And Johnson said a lot of the quality used items are half the cost of new retail, which is a big savings for people. As a customer stopped in Wednesday with a load of used equipment to check for potential purchase at the store, Hoff looked through each piece.

“He’s really big on giving back to the community,” Johnson said of Hoff. “He's awesome with customer service. … We want them to have this as their favorite sporting goods store.”

As Hoff prepared for opening day, he said it was a mixture of emotions with excitement and nerve wracking.

“Hopefully, it will be good for the long run, for myself — for the lakes community,” Hoff said.

Interior of the store
Mike Hoff and D.J. Johnson work at the counter inside the Play It Again Sports store in Baxter. <b> </b>The sporting equipment in the store runs the gamut of team sports to fitness and recreation.
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

The new store is located at 13495 Elder Drive S., Suite 160, in Baxter.

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Opening weekend

The first 25 customers who were in line for Thursday’s opening day received $25 gift cards. There were opening line “wow” item giveaways of a stand-up paddleboard, master gift bag and wiffleball sets with an ice pack gift with each purchase.

Specials continue into the weekend with free Rafferty’s pizza Saturday, discounts and coupons for the Memorial Day weekend along with bike helmets and baseball backpack giveaways.

Mike Hoff checks equipment in the store
Mike Hoff checks out equipment in the store Wednesday, May 24, 2023, The sporting equipment in the store runs the gamut from pickleball to disc golf and water sports, boxing, soccer, and baseball. There are stability balls, weights, yoga mats, used bikes, lacrosse, treadmills and exercise equipment and more.<br/>
Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Editor's Note: The story was updated to correct a wrong word in a quote.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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