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Sticking with it: Yarmouth organization making new products out of used and broken hockey sticks


If you have an old hockey stick or two that you’re no longer using but have yet to throw out, a Yarmouth organization wants to hear from you.

The Store Next Door, a registered charity that works with people with disabilities, is developing a new line of furniture using old sticks. And while the response to the products – including end tables, trophy racks, coat racks and headboards – has been great, the group says their biggest challenge at this point is getting more sticks.

“We seem to be selling things faster than we can make them, which is a good problem to have,” said Sandra Quesnel, program director with YACRO Social Enterprises. (YACRO is the Yarmouth Association for Community Residential Options.)

They got a couple of truckloads of sticks from the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth and the Barrington arena has come on board as well, Quesnel said. They are reaching out to other arenas from Halifax down, as well as universities, junior A hockey teams and the general public, she said.

The initiative will help create jobs for people with disabilities while making new products out of sticks that otherwise might end up in the landfill, she said.

She and Aimee Acker, operations manager with YACRO Social Enterprises, credit Gage Crowell, project team leader, with getting the hockey stick initiative off the ground.

Acker said the initial plan had been to use old sticks for photo frames, but this didn’t work out.

“We couldn’t manufacture them so he (Crowell) went with a different type of project and this is what he came up with,” Acker said.

The first item they made was an end table and Crowell recalls that it took months before it was sold to a woman who came to Yarmouth on the Cat ferry.

“She brought it home and put it on her Facebook feed and then we started getting orders,” Crowell said. “We decided to expand the line ... We built another end table, a headboard and a trophy shelf and they sold before they even made it to the store, so we realized that there’s some demand there.”

Quesnel says Crowell has great skills and ideas “and he’s been a huge source of mentorship for the social enterprise team.”

Crowell prefers to highlight the efforts of the team’s members, notably those working with him on the hockey stick project.

“These guys do a fantastic job,” he said. “They’re the real stars.”

Given how Canadians love hockey – and how they also like to see things repurposed – a project that can create new products out of old hockey sticks (and sell them at reasonable prices) is definitely worth pursuing, Crowell said.

Quesnel, meanwhile, says the items are great gift ideas.

She feels good about this new initiative, saying she sees much potential, and hopes the response they’ve had so far is a sign of things to come.

“This has been an incredibly supportive community when it comes to our social enterprise endeavours,” she said.

How you can help:

Hockey sticks can be dropped off at The Store Next Door, 6 Central St., Yarmouth, or contact Aimee Acker at 902-742-1332 or by email at acker@yacro.com

The organization can offer tax receipts for stick donations.

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