Catch great deals at The Sports Connection

When Sue Budai saw a baseball bat for sale at an unbelievable retail price of $300, she was convinced that The Sports Connection would be a successful business venture. She, husband William, and daughter Billie West are owners and operators of the unique consignment/resale store in Hyde Park that specializes in affordable sports equipment but offers much more.

“We opened that last week in October, but the business was long coming,” explained Sue. “The economy actually helped make our decision to open. The sporting goods field in general is extremely expensive and not affordable for all families. At our store, the stock is either in excellent used condition or there are some new items, and typical items are 50-70 percent off retail store prices.”

The Sports Connection is definitely a local family endeavor and a good team. Sue and Bill, residents of Salt Point, are both real estate brokers who also enjoy the more relaxed environment of retail sales. Billie and her husband, Bob, live in Red Hook and run a landscaping business. Their daughter Sierra, age 13, also sometimes joins her mom to greet customers.

“The store is a fun place,” Billie said. “New customers are coming in daily, and they seem very happy.”

Sue added, “When people come in here, unlike other stores, they stay and they talk about sports, the economy—they just sit and converse.”

While the subject of sports naturally fuels conversation, countless interesting anecdotes accompany the skates, skis, bicycles and the special “Golfer’s Gutter Pool,” which have all been gathering dust and taking up space for years in people’s attics and garages.

In addition, a vast range of exercise equipment somehow fits in the compact store’s space. “We’ve been doing a lot of health and fitness,” Sue said. “People can’t afford, or have limited time, to go to a gym.” Some clothing and equipment for martial arts, fencing, and climbing are available, and for spring, fishing and camping items are being sought for consignment. Even sports collectibles, including artwork and memorabilia, can be found amongst the rest of the ever-changing inventory.

Sue is pleased that the family may be making an important connection with local schools. Coaches now know that their team members have the option of turning in equipment they have outgrown and so be able to afford newer items for the next season. Students (and veterans) receive free membership cards entitling them to an additional 10 percent off the already discounted merchandise. “We have had good support from the schools,” Sue said. She has been made aware recently of a growing interest to introduce lacrosse into local schools, and The Sports Connection might be able to facilitate this effort by locating resources to obtain the otherwise-expensive equipment of that game at a discount price.

“This is a place where you can take the stuff that would normally be just sitting in your garage, recycle… and get some cash!” Sue said.

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