Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Day 2 of Hockey Jersey Training Camp brings us to our next "drill", where to buy your jerseys.
In the pre-internet past, buying jerseys was limited to the souvenir stand of your local team and a few select options at a limited number of sporting goods stores.
With the arrival of the internet into our homes, the options for the jersey collector have expanded exponentially since the mid 1990's, beginning with any number of online retailers and of course, ebay, the world's biggest garage sale, where collectors across North America could buy and sell their jerseys without regional boundaries and limited selections as in the past.
Other options beyond ebay that began to appear were online stores, such as IceJerseys.com, RiverCitySports.com, United States College Hockey Online's internet store (USCHO.com) and Shop.NHL.com, who focus almost exclusively on hockey, as well hockey equipment dealers like HockeyGiant.com, HockeyMonkey.com and TotalHockey.com, who all have a jersey selection as part of their hockey gear websites as well as other broader appeal sporting goods retailers such as FogDog.com and FansEdge.com.
No mention of online jersey sellers would be complete without a mention of the wonderfully unique WorldHockeyJerseys.com, who deal with mainly national team jerseys of quite nearly 50 different countries and have been responsible for some real gems in our collection, such as national team jerseys from Estonia, Iceland, the Netherlands and Poland since their founding in late 2006. It was absolutely unheard of to be able to purchase a Mongolian National Team jersey on demand until WHJ came on the scene!
If you are looking for some really obscure or unique items, go no farther than VintageMinnesotaHockey.com. The selection offered by VMH is like no other, beginning with a 1915-16 St. Paul Athletic Club jersey and moving through the history of Minnesota hockey through classic high school, junior, college, minor league, WHA and NHL Minnesota classics, all produced with painstaking detail and quality. Where else are you going to be able to purchase Neal Broten's high school jersey? And if you are a fan of the University of Minnesota, or the players they have recently sent to the NHL, VMH is the place for you to get your Gophers jerseys, from 1936 to 2008.
Another "garage sale" approach online can be your local Craigslist.org listings, where the occasional gem can be found.
Unfortunately the main source we have relied on for over a decade, ebay, has taken an enormous turn for the worse, as fees associated with selling on ebay have risen again and again and again, which are naturally passed on to the buyer whenever possible. Rising postage costs have also made ebay less attractive to a certain degree, but the main problem with buying on ebay these days is the incredible proliferation of fake jerseys from China flooding the market and making the legitimate jerseys quite difficult and time consuming to locate and identify among all the static.
A poor quality knockoff jersey with "Gonchar" misspelled!
Sadly, ebay has little reason or incentive to attempt to curtail all the illegal activity crowding out the legitimate jerseys as they profit from each and every one of the thousands of the knockoffs listed on their site through the listing fees they charge, whether an item sells or not.
Should any of these jerseys actually sell to those unknowingly thinking they are getting a great deal or don't care that the jersey is a fake when compared to the price of a real jersey, ebay makes even more money on both the final value fee and the subsequent paypal payment, further reducing their incentive to clean up their listings, as turning a blind eye to the fake jerseys only helps their bottom line.
Still, despite it's problems, ebay is still the place to look for the majority of what you want as long as you are able to identify the real jerseys from the counterfeits, especially if you are interested in any of the older style jerseys prior to the arrival of Reebok becoming the supplier to the NHL in 2007-08, as the above listed online shops only carry the current seasons jerseys almost without exception.
If one thinks ebay has gotten bad, it hardly compares to the cesspool of junk peddled on craigslist. Even finding a legit jersey for sale with adequate photos is like finding a needle in a haystack, but it can be done with some persistence and luck.
Another alternative to paying retail prices at the various online stores or dealing with the hassles of ebay is to buy directly from other collectors. A limited number of online forums, such as that hosted by IceJerseys, Jersey Central.org or the game worn forums at both GameWorn.net and GameWornJerseys.com all have marketplace sections where collectors can buy from and sell to other members of their online community.
After you have been a member of these discussion forums for a period of time, you will learn which members are trustworthy and have established reputations as honest people to deal with. We personally have started to buy an increasing percentage of our jerseys directly from others this way.
Some of those forums have rules which require you to be a member for a period of time and also participate as an active member of the forum with a minimum number of posts before you can sell your jerseys there. Please be respectful and follow not only their established guidelines, but the spirit of those guidelines. Creating a two dozen brief posts all in one day which add nothing to the conversation and annoyingly dredge up old threads to simply meet the number of posts required will not fool anyone will harm your reputation as a trustworthy seller and won't earn you selling privileges anyway.
If you have any other favorite sources to obtain your jerseys, we'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
We also invite you to visit the selected advertisers mentioned above in our ThirdStringGoalie marketplace sections in our right hand column of this page.