The Rockford IceHogs held a garage sale on Saturday, June 27 in which the team sold game worn jerseys from the 2014-15 season in addition to game used sticks, a small assortment of gloves and helmets and leftover merchandise and in-game promotions. I woke-up at 5:30 AM that morning to make the 2-hour drive from my place in Chicago so that I could join fellow collector, Chris Jerina, and his wife, Michelle, at the front of the line. Sure enough, when I arrived they were already camped out by doors making me the third person waiting to get into the BMO Center.
Although I have been collecting on and off for nearly a couple of decades, this was actually the first equipment sale that I had ever attended. In going to the sale, like many other collectors, I had a specific agenda. Even though I grew-up being a Blackhawks fan and there were sure to IceHogs jerseys of guys from the most recent Stanley Cup winning team such as Scott Darling and Teuvo Teravainen, the main focus of my collection is my alma mater, Western Michigan University, and I really wanted to get a jersey of former Bronco captain Dane Walters.
With the sale officially beginning at 11:00 AM and us getting there at 8:00, we had three hours to spend waiting. As I know many other collectors would agree, as meaningful as the jerseys in our collections are, the best part about this hobby are the interactions with other collectors and the friendships that develop as a result. Both Chris and Michelle are great, down-to-earth people and as a result, the time we spent waiting really flew by. We discussed various aspects of the hobby in addition to topics outside of the world of jersey collecting. As the line began to grow in size and as the time to enter neared, we began to discuss our strategy for when the doors opened. Since there were three of us and Rockford wore three styles of jerseys, home, away and alternate, we decided it would be best if we each went for a rack and pulled any player that any us were looking for, which was any #19 Walters jerseys for me and any #21 Teravainen and #33 Darling jerseys for Chris and Michelle.
As the time drew near, the line behind us had grown to extend the entire length of the arena so we felt fortunate to have arrived as early as we did, but we also knew that we were going to have to hustle and make some quick decisions once we got inside. The clock finally struck 11:00 and right on cue, an employee opened the doors to let us in. We entered on the street level of the arena and began to scale the stairs to main concourse where the sale was being held. Prior to entering, the three of us had wondered what type of protocol or etiquette the people behind us would follow, if any. Would they respect the fact that we were there first and file in behind us or would some attempt to sprint past us once the doors were opened?
Once we began to climb the first few stairs we could immediately hear what sounded like a cattle stampede coming up behind us so our brisk pace quickly escalated into the scene from Rocky in which he sprinted up the steps of the Philadelphia Public Library. Once at the top, I made a beeline for the carousel of red jerseys while Chris went for the whites and Michelle for the alternates. I quickly nabbed two jerseys each of both Teravainen and Darling, but to my dismay, there were not any Walters on my rack. Chris had the exact same experience at this carousel by finding Teravainen and Darling jerseys, but no Walters. I couldn’t believe it. Had I really just drove all the way out here on a Saturday morning only to come up empty?
Luckily, Michelle found a #19 Walters alternate which saved my trip from being a total bust. Once we had the jerseys in our hands, we quickly made are way to an empty corner of the concourse to examine what we had as the hoard of people around us grew. Chris and Michelle weren’t going to keep all of the Darling and Teravainen jerseys that we grabbed, but they wanted a chance to look at them at find the ones with the best wear and game use. For me, I was faced with a bit of temptation. I had gone to the sale with the sole intention of only getting a Walters for my collection as it fit my focus and more importantly, my budget. Being the AHL affiliate of the newly crowned Stanley Cup Champions, it appeared as if the IceHogs were attempting to piggyback (pun intended) off of the recent success of their parent club with their pricing.
Walters was at the low end of the game worn pricing at $450, with Darling and Teravainen at the high end at $900 and everyone else such as Joakim Nordstrom, Kyle Cumiskey, and Stephen Johns being somewhere in-between. The $450 for Walters was actually a little higher than what I had hoped to pay, but being being big Blackhawk fan in addition to being a fan of Scott Darling and having a jersey of his in one hand and my credit card in the other, I came very close to throwing my budget out the window.
Fortunately, I was able to exercise enough self-control to hand the Darling over to Chris, who then turned it over to a friend of his who had arrived to the sale shortly after we did. With my Walters in hand I decided to make one more round through the sale to see what was left and to tempt myself into buying something else. Even after the swarm of people had picked through every item, there was still quite a bit left which I think was a reflection on the pricing. There were quite a few practice jerseys available, including a couple of Walters, but at $200 each I just could not justify the cost. There were also quite a few regular season game worn jerseys available when I made my final pass, including a really nice Nordstrom captain jersey, but at $700 it was too far out of my range and apparently I wasn’t the only person there who felt the same way.
My only other purchase came in the form of two giant sleeves of plastic souvenir schedule cups for $5 apiece. I figured with summer starting to set it, they would be perfect for sipping margaritas over the next couple of months. I checked out alongside Chris and Michelle and then we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Despite paying more than I originally wanted for my jersey, I had a sense of satisfaction during my commute back to Chicago as I was still very pleased to add to my collection a game worn jersey of one of my all-time favorite Broncos. In the end, the Rockford IceHogs sale was a success and something that I would definitely attend again in the future.
We arrived around 9:30 am in which there were already people in line for the garage sale. Unlike last year, the doors opened on time which was 11 am. Last year’s sale the doors opened 30 minutes early which caught many people off guard, especially those who wait to come at last minute.
I was lucky enough to meet a few fellow collectors that I knew from previous sales and conventions and befriended a few new collectors and saw what they were able to grab, etc. Some of us ended up trading items back and forth so we could get the colors or players we wanted. I ended walking away with 3 items on my want list.
It appeared to me from attending previous Icehog garage sales that this one has been the most expensive and busiest of them all. The sale ended at 1pm. Not many items were left by the time the doors closed. Any remaining jerseys will be sold via the team store on eBay at a later date in the summer or will be used during in-game raffle ticket drawings.
Prices were the following:
Hockey socks (pair) – $20
Helmets – $45
Gloves – $45
Sticks (used) – $75
Sticks (new) – $100
Practice Jerseys – $200-$400.
Alt, Red, and White Game worn jerseys (non-autographed) $400-$900.
Alt, Red, and White Game worn jerseys (autographed) $450-$950.
*Higher end player names or ones called up to Chicago and/or associated with the Stanley Cup Finalswere on the higher price scale. (ie. $900 or 950 for the game worn jerseys).*
Posters – $5
Photo canvas – $5
Lunchbox – $5
Plastic Cups (bundle) – $5
Wooden tray w/logo – $30
Not at the sale
Protective equipment (elbow pads, shoulder pads, or shin pads)