Play It Again Sports is the recognized name in the used equipment resale market. We usually think of it in terms of getting rid of our kid’s soccer cleats now that Pokémon Go has destroyed all of their interest in team sports. But way before Craigslist became the favorite online retailer for frugal garage gym owners, Play It Again Sports was a place to get good deals on training equipment. I outfitted my first home gym with a 45lb bar and plate weights in a package that offered 300# of weight for $99. Oh to be a youthful 27 year old again!
But when solid training equipment is available with a few keystrokes, do we need a used equipment store? I reached out to the Jay Crook, the owner/manager of a Play It Again Sports franchise store in Kennesaw, Georgia to see if it’s still worth it to rummage through stacks of weights like I did on Saturday afternoons back in the day.
Play It Again Sports specializes in buying and selling new and used sporting goods, is that correct?
Typically when we think of Play It Again Sports we think baseball, softball – team sports stuff for your kids. But you guys also sell training equipment correct?
Fitness equipment, exercise equipment is our number one category. Has been for twenty plus years.
I said that you guys sell new and used, so what brands do you guys carry new?
Fitness equipment we carry, AFG we’re big fans of, Pro-Form and NordicTrack, on the used side everything from your Weslo, Pro Form, Sears Lifestyle, Health rider, NordicTrack, Reebok, Spirit, Smooth, AFG, Precor, Life Fitness, Nautilus, Schwinn. Sooner or later, every brand flows through here. In fitness equipment, strength equipment, Body Solid I’m a big fan of.
I saw some Weider stuff; do you only carry that used?
Yeah, typically because that’s more entry level and that’s fine but if you’re going to use this equipment, sometimes it’s worth spending a little bit more. Sometimes it’s worth waiting and doing it right, because you can do it without anything. So if you’re going to buy a piece, buy a quality piece. So brands like Body Solid, they’re great because they’re not cheap and they’re not way overkill either. They’re a pretty good value within their product line.
Identifying Quality Equipment
What do you look for when purchasing used training equipment? Let’s talk about non weight training equipment first.
Well for cardio, if it works we’ll pretty much buy it, trade it or consign it. So because of that we’ve got a really large selection of all things cardio. We have over thirty treadmills right now on the floor. From $100 up to $2500. So whatever you’re looking for, we’ve got four or five options for you. Everything comes warranted.
How long’s the warranty?
We have a thirty day, full money back refund and we warrant product for a minimum of 90 days up to lifetime and that’s all in home. But the things we’re looking for, while we buy in as much as we can in all different price ranges, the things that suit the customer best, that hold their value the best are your better quality pieces. We’re looking for quality first and foremost. There is some seasonality to product so that could affect our interest level.
So let’s say it’s spring time you’re going to be more interested in treadmills, steppers. There’s the notorious New Year’s resolution crowd and then there are the people getting in shape for summer, weddings what have you. If it’s January 5 and I come in with a treadmill am I likely to get a better price because you know somebody’s coming in right behind me to buy it?
Well yes, when something’s in demand and our selection is lower, then yes, we’re apt to pay more money for it. Just supply and demand and that goes along with people’s interest levels— New Year’s resolution, people getting in shape for summer. What’s interesting is when we’re going through spring time and fall, it’s really nice weather outside, all of a sudden people don’t need a treadmill. And they really don’t! You can totally go outside any time of the year. This stuff just gives you more options. I find that if I have multiple pieces, I do all of it more. My workouts are more consistent. I get a nice day, I’m going outside. But it sure is nice to have it there when I need it.
So you train at home also?
I’ve got this website and blog you may want to check out and subscribe to…
Ha ha! I’m going to check it out. But I’m very proud of my workout room. I sincerely mean this; it’s my favorite room in my entire house. Make no mistake about it. Some days I put in a herculean effort, other days I’m lying flat on my back in a yoga shavasana pose or something. But I go in there, breathe and listen to myself and I need it. I handpicked every piece in there and it’s just, a workout room in my basement, but it’s a good sized room. It’s about 12×19 and you wouldn’t believe me if I told you all of the pieces I’ve got in there. I can duplicate so many exercises from a gym right in my home.
On your own schedule!
On my own schedule, I don’t have to drive somewhere; I don’t have to pay anybody. I enjoy going to gyms when I’m out of town, I’ll stop in a gym. I kind of enjoy it. But I’ve injured myself in a gym letting my ego get in the way by just being distracted by everything that’s going on in there and not listening to what my body was telling me. So at home I don’t make those mistakes. Because I really consider most workouts rehab just to continue to train weak points, to maintain flexibility and all of that stuff.
Honestly, training should get you ready for your life; it shouldn’t take away from your life!
It prepares you to do the things you like to do so you’re less vulnerable.
Tell me what are some deal breakers? I’ve traded stuff to you guys before so I know you don’t take those concrete weights with the plastic coating.
You know we really should but we really don’t because when we get them they just sit there awhile and they can crack. And we might if we didn’t have such a big selection of steel. As long as we’ve got enough steel to offer you; it’s just more long-term. As I got into it myself, started adjusting my workouts being in the business I began to be a little bit of a snob with the equipment, demanding only the best equipment because you know it’s so close to me.
While I still believe in quality, sometimes there’s been in cardio for example there’ve been pieces that’s more brand driven and not quality driven. But it had some feature on it that got me excited about working out. So I worked out on it for a year and had a blast!
So if somebody buys some gadget off of an infomercial and two months into it they say, “Ehn, maybe not!” You guys are willing to take that stuff?
Oh yeah! Infomercial stuff isn’t always bad. Some of it’s decent, some of it’s not. But if it means something to somebody, gets them going in a routine that might spark their interest it might find a spot. Infomercial stuff just has a shorter shelf life. I mean the popularity of it. So when it’s hot on an infomercial, the demand is there and they’re marketing it and selling it, if we get those in used, we can command a higher price and therefore we can buy it from a seller for more. But as the infomercial stalls then demand goes down and suddenly we get more traded in. So now if we’ve got twenty of them, we might not want to pay as much.
Let’s talk about weights. What’s low quality to you?
Well, with a bar, if it’s a hollow bar versus a solid bar. There are also different kinds of ways the Olympic sleeves are fastened onto the bar.
One of the things I remember when I worked in a commercial gym was we always had problems with the hex bolts on the ends of the bars coming out.
Snap rings are always desired over the hex nuts. We’d buy it either way we’d just price them differently. How I feel about it isn’t as important as if it’s still useable. And we’d just price it according to the quality.
Preserving The Value of Your Equipment
Let’s say someone plan on trading in something so they can upgrade. What can they do to preserve the trade in value of their equipment?
Fortunately with exercise equipment it kind of lasts forever. If you’re getting into some cardio pieces, ellipticals you’ve got a lot of moving parts. So if you buy a more entry level one to begin with, if it’s got a lot of moving parts it’s probably going to turn into a squeaker. If something wiggles loose, tighten it up. But if you can get something a little better to begin with, a little better gauge steel, maybe the fastening systems are better etc. They just hold their value a little bit better. Treadmills, keep them clean, keep them lubricated under the belts. We have kits to take care of all that; we can educate anyone on how to do that.
And every Play It Again Sports can do that?
We’re independently owned; we all have the same goals. Also, our stores are there for your advice too. Around here, we’ve all been doing this a long time. We service everything we sell so if you’re having a problem with something even if you didn’t buy it from us, you can call the store and we can walk you through the problem. I’d like to think they all operate that way. You know probably on a product like a treadmill, most stores should have the lube. Heck, most of the time, we try to talk you out of service and try to walk you through repairing it so you don’t have to pay us to fix it.
Does your store have a social media presence?
Yes, we’re not very evolved. We do have a Twitter, a Facebook an Instagram but I haven’t looked at it in so long.
What about coupons or package deals?
I encourage everyone who shops in our stores to get on our email list because at least once a month we send something out and it has at least one coupon in it.
One more question: What’s the strangest thing somebody’s tried to trade in?
Ha! You got about an hour? I’ve had people try to trade some things you’ve never seen before!
Jay, thanks for your time!