BROOKFIELD, Conn. -- It started when five hockey dads put their own money on the table to open a small hockey retail business 43 years ago. And now, the Brookfield store is recognized as one of the best in the country.
WESCO Sports Center at 270 Federal Road, Brookfield, has carved out a niche as the go-to store for hockey players.
The business opened in 1972 when the late Edward Mathews and four friends from Perkin-Elmer in Danbury, who were hockey dads and coaches, were dissatisfied with the service they received at a store in Westchester County, N.Y. They had gone there to get gear for their children. One of those children was Edward’s son, Doug, who now owns the store.
Each of the partners put in $5,000 and began the business in a storefront with no running water, Doug said with a laugh. The partners each put time into the store before the Mathews family eventually bought out the other partners.
The name WESCO comes from western Connecticut, Mathews said. The business has grown through the years until now it has a regional and national profile.
Mathews proudly shows a hockey stick hanging above the counter.
“Look at this; that is pretty hefty right there,” he said, pointing out the award from well-known hockey company Bauer naming it the best retailer from among 5,000 retailers across the country for 2013. “You don’t get it if you aren’t really doing a very good job.”
Part of that is their attention to detail of what a hockey player needs. A big drawing card the store has is its "Goalie Center," which has three rooms with gear lining the walls. It also has a full training station, where goalies can get used to their pads and equipment.
Doug Mathews said the boom area in hockey retailing is the technological change in equipment, such as the use of composite materials.
"Have you seen the weight of these skates?" he said as he picks out a pair of skates that feel like a feather compared to others. "It's amazing the technology."