As one would generally do before big end of the year sales, you start to plan out the items you REALLY want, then find out who else is going so you know your competition. It was a day like any other day until the email came through announcing the date of the Detroit Red Wings equipment sale.
Once I got that email, it was full steam ahead. I began contacting friends I know in the jersey hobby, trying to figure out who was going, what they wanted, what I wanted. I knew that some of the jerseys I wanted would be one of the most sought of the year. Gustav Nyquist.
I began talking to friends from out of town, knowing that I might be able to help them with something that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. They might return the favor later. Of course, at the top of most people’s list was Nyquist. I couldn’t make promises I couldn’t keep but I told them I would try to get them and if I was successful, figure the rest out later. Step 1 first, get stuff.
As I talked with friends and other collectors, I found out who was and was not going. It seemed that my biggest competition for Glendening jerseys would not be there. Enter Jason. The funniest part of conversations that you have with people you are trying to find information out from is the half truths. The feeler questions.
Jason knew he would be going. I knew I would be going. We avoided the obvious questions for the most part until a week later when the season ticket holder passes were emailed. That clicks us both in to full on negotiation mode.
We knew what the sales are like, we had both been there before. Hectic. People smashed around racks of jerseys, trying to sift through the lot while 8 other people are looking for the same thing while 4 of you want the same jersey, but who finds it first?
We could help each other out, right? Maybe! “Hey man, what do you plan on getting?”. “I don’t know yet, I am still trying to decide. Maybe this one”. “Yea, Ok cool. I’m not really interested in that one, let’s help each other out”.
We compiled our list using Google Drive so we could both see each other’s edits. As we filled the list, we marked if they were for friends or not and what the maximum amount each person was willing to pay. Great. We got the list. Now we need to complete the list.
“Hey man, when are you going up?”. “I don’t know but I am sure we need to be the first in the door”. “Ok, Yea, lets get there really early, before anyone”. “Ok, see you there.”
It was the night before the sale. I had just gotten back from an Alaska trip for work, on little to no sleep and my wife recommended we stay at her parents house, 30 minutes from our destination to maximize our sleep. Jason ended up staying in a hotel very close to the store.
We met up at the discussed time. He was waiting for us in his truck, chair already set up by the door. We had tablets with movies on them, I was ready to interview him for the website. None of that was necessary. We unloaded our chair, my wife slept more in the car and we peered through the windows for about an hour trying to identify what we would see.
Warrior Ritual Goalie chest protector. I want that. (Unfortunately it wasn’t my size so I had to pass)
About 10 helmets.
4 Goalie Masks. Who’s were they? We couldn’t tell.
25ish pairs of gloves.
40-60 pairs of skates. I didn’t really count them.
Vaughn Leg Pads. They look like they’ve never been used!
Jerseys. 4 Racks of jerseys. 1 current year rack, 1 training camp rack, 1 alumni warm up rack, and 1 double sided previous year discount rack.
After the excitement of seeing everything wore off, we talked game plan. “Jason, you go in first. Start looking through the white jerseys. Grab all the whites from the list. Ill be right behind you and I will start at the red ones.” The jerseys looked like they were in number order. “Once we finish with the main objective, we will look through again to find anything else.”
As the time went, more people began to show up. I made little updates on the Facebook page. We were all trying to gauge what other people wanted. You did not want to tell them exactly what you were after but wanted to know how close your competition was to the front of the line so you know how much time you have.
A few snacks and bathroom breaks later, the line was pretty long. Employees had begun to come to work, everyone started to get antsy. 15 minutes before the doors open, we all took our chairs back to the cars. It was game time. It was for real. It was happening.
As we waited, we watched employees move racks and gear around, messing with our original game plan. “Alright man, the rack is more in the open now, what do we do?”. “Its closer to the tables on that side, so if we go to this other side, the tables wont be in our way”. “Good idea, lets do that!”.
“Dude, my stomach has butterflies, this is intense”. “Yea man, me too”. “This is like the Stanley Cup Finals or something man. I feel like I am gonna get in there and forget everything I am suppose to find”. I started repeating the jersey numbers of the players I needed to get. My wife thought I was ridiculous. “We got this man, we got this”.
The doors opened. We showed our passes. Jason moved quickly to the whites. The plan was in action. I jumped right to the reds. We each had 4 numbers to make sure we got. They were in number order. I scurried through the rack, knowing, repeating my numbers. I moved handfuls of jerseys at a time. 14, yank. 21, yank. “Oh man, I gotta get my Glendening first”. 41, yank. “Crap, where is 26. Gotta find it right now”. 26, yank. Playoff set time. 41 red and white, right next to each other, yank.
All this happened in under 15 seconds. I turn to Jason, “Hey man! Did you find them all?” “I cant find 14 or 21”. I move over to the whites, and we look in number order. 13, 17, no 14. 20, 23, no 21. “Well, we got close, what did you get?” We look at his lot. I grab the sleeve of one of them. “Dude, 14 right there, you got it man!” “I must have grabbed it and forgot!”
We bustled around the store a little bit, checking on the other things people wanted us to get. Sifted through the training camp jerseys. I helped a few people find some players they were looking for in some of the other racks and I casually browsed. Took some pictures, checked out the masks.
As we left the store, “Hey man, you got the Nyquists right? Ill give you more for it”. “Nah man, I can’t do it right now. Came here for them, gotta leave with them. Sorry”. I would receive questions and offers from about 5 different people as I made my way to the door.
We went in with a mission. We only had one casualty. We walked out, filled with emotion and with a great story. What a roller coaster.