Business

It will take years to recover despite NHL’s return

Collectors Den owner Larry Weiss hopes Canucks fever will set in again. - Seung-Chul Baik file photo
Collectors Den owner Larry Weiss hopes Canucks fever will set in again.
— image credit: Seung-Chul Baik file photo

When brothers Larry and Daryl Weiss first opened Wax Pax ‘n Stuff at Lansdowne Centre in 1990, they knew their venture into the world of collectibles wasn’t going to be boring.

But three hockey disputes later, in a hockey-rabid market, the pair are at the brink.

“It’s been brutal,” said Daryl Weiss, who runs Collectors’ Den at Metrotown in Burnaby, while his brother Larry operates the renamed Lansdowne Centre store.

“We’re still recovering from the last lockout,” Daryl said of the cancelled 2004/05 NHL season.

While he welcomed Sunday’s news that the season has been salvaged, and hockey will resume in the next two weeks, Daryl said it will take years for him to recover.

Wax Pax n’ Stuff was primarily a collectibles store dealing with collectible sports cards when it first opened, but the brothers have since renamed their stores and diversified their offerings to include the sale of hockey, football and baseball sports jerseys and hats, other sports memorabilia and fashion wear, along with TicketMaster services.

But the core of their business remains much the same in the Vancouver area, where people live and breath hockey like it’s a religion.

“Like it or not, we live and die with the Canucks,” he said.

While the long run that the Canucks made in 2011 made for a healthy financial year, the early first-round exit to eventual NHL champion Los Angeles Kings was like a gut shot. Daryl explained that merchandise orders must be made a year in advance, forcing retailers to guess about the team’s fortunes. The premature end to the last season meant loads of unsold merchandise.

The end of the lockout does mean there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but Daryl said it will take the Vancouver Canucks playing, and winning, to get fans excited once again.

Unlike the cancelled season, Daryl said people are angrier this time around.

“More people are mad and angry that billionaires and millionaires are fighting for money made by the fans.”

The dispute has many people saying they’ve had enough with hockey, he said.

But Daryl has his fingers crossed that time will heal all wounds.

“I’m a fan too, right. I’m financially invested and emotionally invested.”

Lost in the dispute between team owners and players was the impact on businesses, like restaurants, bars and merchandise stores including his.

He heard one TV sportscaster tell disgruntled fans not to buy hockey jerseys anymore if they wanted to send a message to ownership and players.

All that will do, Daryl said, is hurt people like him.

If people are upset, they should avoid buying merchandise at Rogers Arena, owned and operated by the Vancouver Canucks, and instead support local businesses like his.

Since the dispute began, he’s had to cut back his staffing hours, and he’s seen his sales take a major hit.

Now he’s hopeful that business will pick up, and he’ll be able to give his staff the same hours they had before the lockout, which will have spin-off benefits.

“This city loves the Canucks.”

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