Frugal fitness

Frugal fitness

Used equipment getting more of a workout

June 4th, 2009 by Laura Galbraith in Life Entertainment

It's no secret that the recession is taking some of the fun out of fitness. To save money, some have even sacrificed by canceling gym memberships or staying away from school sports that require expensive equipment. However, even in these tough times, all is not lost for fitness buffs or pint-size athletes.

At Play It Again Sports on Lee Highway, employees buy, sell and trade new and used sporting equipment and fitness gear. Stores that specialize in used and consignment merchandise are apparently weathering the recession relatively well, according to industry experts and store operators.

Customers watching their money can come into Play It Again Sports, make trades or find deals on all sorts of used items such as baseball gloves, bats, golfing equipment and fitness machines.

"People aren't as picky as they used to be," said Carol Blankenship, the store's manager. "(They used to say), 'Oh, I'll never buy used.' Well, now they are."

Mrs. Blankenship said the economy has changed people's attitudes about frugality.

"If (customers) come in and they ask for whatever it is, we are going to show them the used, cheaper version first before we (show) them the new version," she said. "We want them to save money just as much as we want to save money."

Canon Cofrancesco, a store employee, said purchases on used items have definitely increased in the last year and a half.

"We've been selling more because people don't want to spend $1,000 on something that they can buy a year old for just $600," he said.

Mr. Cofrancesco said that customers frequently come into the store to trade equipment for cash.

"Sometimes you'll get people that come in, and you can really tell they don't want to sell what they have, like maybe a set of golf clubs," he said. "But they have just been laid off and they can free up a $2,000 set of golf clubs."

For those customers who believe they deserve more for what they bring, Mr. Cofrancesco pulls them around to the front of the store's computer and shows them where to go on the Internet.

Some people might be leery buying a used treadmill or weight machine. However, it is important for the buyer not to equate the word "used" with "unusable." "Another misconception is that people don't

want to buy used stuff because they think it

has been eaten on and (damaged)," said Mr. Cofrancesco. "We check everything out. We check the treadmills out and make sure the motor is still up to par."

The newspaper classifieds are another place to find good deals on used sports equipment.

Hixson resident Bobbie White recently placed an ad for a Gazelle elliptical trainer, a machine that she had previously bought from her daughter but is now selling because an accident has left her unable to use it. Ms. White said she has also used the classifieds to sell a treadmill that her husband used before his death.

"The first people that came and looked at it bought it," she said.