Standing among brightly coloured NHL jerseys, T-shirts, sweaters and hats, Dominic Reale said his store's bottom line is serving the penalty for the four-month-old NHL lockout.
Dominic, who owns Pro Am Sportswear with his brother, Diego Reale, said the store's sales of NHL gear are down about 20 per cent, although sales of these items have picked up a bit lately because people are looking for Christmas gifts.
The Lasalle Boulevard store, which has been in business since 1988, sells professional sports clothing.
“Our sales definitely reflect hockey,” Dominic said. “That's the driving force for this whole business ... No, it's not fair, but there's not much we can do about it. Unfortunately it's something we have to put up with as a business.”
At the same time, sales of NFL clothing is up, as hockey fans seem to be spending more of their time watching football, Dominic said.
He said he thinks the lockout is “ridiculous,” and is being caused by “greed” on the parts of both the NHL owners and players, who have failed to come to an agreement.
Dominic said he'd be surprised if the NHL season can be saved at this point.
“It's the third time in 20 years,” he said. “It's not good for the sport. They're probably losing a lot of fans.”
Meanwhile, the Reale brothers have to deal with the lockout's financial fallout.
“We all have to put food on our table and pay our bills,” Diego said. “Our store is based mostly on hockey. With the loss of sales, it's affecting us big time financially. But it's not hurting (the players and owners).”
Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks players Michael Batrikeev and Andrei Romanov, both 17-year-old Russian citizens, happened to be in the store during Northern Life's visit, purchasing NHL gear as Christmas presents for friends.
Andrei said he's disappointed by the NHL lockout.
“There are a lot of people here who want to see the NHL games.”
At the same time, though, the NHL lockout has had a positive impact on the KHL, the professional hockey league in Russia. Andrei said a lot of NHL players are currently playing with KHL teams, increasing the league's popularity.