For over 35 years, hockey enthusiasts in Oshawa, Ont. have seen many local hockey shops open and close its doors but one store has remained throughout constant — Crow’s Sports.
Owner Dave Konarowski, who started the business with a single skate sharpening machine in his own home, brought up his kids to love the sport of hockey. His son, Jared Konarowski, runs the store now. Dave has passed down his skills for his son to carry the legacy.
Dave built a backyard rink his family used to play hockey on but their blades were chewed up by the outdoor ice and needed to be sharpened every time before they could be used inside a local arena.
Issues with Dave’s regular skate sharpening technician forced him to buy his own machine and started the 35-plus years of fine experience and detail that has gone into making customers satisfied and returning again and again to get their skates sharpened.
With the help of chiropractors and professional speed skaters, Dave eventually created his own technique called the ReBal Radius. Dave believes the ReBal gets you into a more athletic stance and makes you quicker off the line and through the corners.
“Your feet are the beginning of balance and posture. So, when your feet are positioned properly, your whole body performs better,” said Dave of his unique sharpening technique.
He emphasized the radius of the sharpened blade is unmatched in the skate industry. Big box stores tend to send skates that need attention to Crow’s Sports, creating good business for the shop.
“Its the greyest area in hockey, the shape of your blade,” added Dave.
Dave spent a lot of man hours perfecting his technique in skate sharpening. It is fair to call him an expert in this field.
“The only continent I do not have customers on is Antarctica, and I probably might even be on that one,” said Dave, who has sharpened skates with his technique all over the world.
People will travel 100 plus kilometers every two weeks just to come to Crow’s Sports for the services provided. Dave said customer satisfaction is an asset for customers to return.
The skate machine was just the beginning of Crow’s Sports.
Although skate sharpening provided by the shop is one, if not, the biggest reason for business, there is many options for goalie and player equipment for hockey. Customization is available to those willing to pay the extra dollars for anything hockey related. There are countless amounts of goalie pads, chest protectors, skates, sticks, helmets, and accessories.
Alongside new equipment and service, Crow’s Sports also has a museum-like feel throughout the store. Ranging from very old and unique goalie masks, sticks, heritage blocker, pads, and gloves, Crow’s Sports has it all hockey.
Since taking over the day-to-day operations of the store, Jared has redecorating the store with other old hockey items he feels his customers would enjoy, including some very rare items. This old equipment adds a sentimental value unmatched by big box stores and people visiting the area for hockey tournaments often stop by the store just to look around.
If you are a fan of goalie masks from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s you can spend an hour looking at over 20 vintage replica masks from Mike Palmateer to Gilles Gratton.
Many professionals know Crow’s Sports for the reliability and attention to detail, especially when it comes to skate fitting and the radius on the blade.
Like any business it will come with obstacles that need to be overcome. For Crow’s Sports case, the big obstacle is the off season from spring to end of summer. When hockey is out of season, the business will see less clients but that hasn’t stopped the shop for the 35 years it has been around.
“Be prepared to work hard,” said Dave, adding that he would put in hours of work once the store closed each night. “You get what you put into it. If you think it is going to come to you easy, forget it.”
From fairly priced equipment to services with immense attention to detail and customer satisfaction, it is easy to see why Crow’s Sports has been around for almost four decades and will remain a go-to spot for hockey services and products for many years to come.