Entrepreneur column: Playback Sports “Near and Dear Affordable Gear”

This weekly column is inspired by Tacoma Entrepreneur Network (TEN). TEN is an intercollegiate network of members in Tacoma designed to explore and build entrepreneurial careers, launched in 2011 by Professor Lynnette Claire. Entrepreneurship uses working knowledge from every background of study. For those who haven’t found their niche yet, are uncertain about what the future holds, or have a multitude of skills and nowhere to apply them, entrepreneurship could be the answer.

Playback Sports offers high-quality used sporting goods at affordable prices near where you live, work and play. Athletes and adventurists alike can find gear that suits their needs, or sell your own equipment back for cash.

Owner Karlen Jessen gave the insider information about how Playback Sports operates.

• What is the passion behind the business?

“Playback Sports was born from a basement full of gear that needed to get back outside. Two years ago, I left an 8-year career at REI to release the fleece that tends to build up over time. I had seen families and sports enthusiasts investing their time and money over the years in gear that I was certain had become imprisoned in dusty basements and cold garages. I wanted to bring it all together in one place where experts could match the used gear with new users. I’m passionate about gear never becoming a barrier to sport and meet that challenge every day. There is no greater joy for me than to see a child running with a smile, throwing a ball or achieving a goal. I love the idea that sport is not about the gear but about the mind, body, earth connection that we get from the engagement with sport.”

• Why focus on used goods?

“Did you know that 80 percent of the environmental impact of new sporting goods and apparel take place before it even hits the store shelf? By choosing to buy used gear you are helping to reduce the footprint made by manufacturing. In addition, we never want the cost of gear to be a barrier to sport. We want everyone to have a chance to play their best and enjoy new sports and activities.”

• What makes the store unique?

“We offer sporting goods in a neighborhood shopping district instead of way out ‘by the mall.’ We strive to offer excellent customer service and recognize most of our customers.  They become part of our family.  We’re knowledgeable about all of the sports we support and can offer advice as well as gear.”

• What can students look forward to when visiting the store?

“Great prices!  Something new to discover every time you come in.  Top quality brands, local knowledge, good music (at least we like it), a wish list (if we don’t have what you want now, we’ll add you to our list and call you when it comes in).  A place to earn some money if you have gear to sell.  Our consignment split is 50/50.

• The Pacific Northwest is very outdoorsy. What sports product does the store sell the most?

“The PNW is great for biking, skiing, snowboarding, hiking and watersports. We also support team sports like soccer, baseball, lax and football. Lots of students come in for cleats to use during intramurals.”

• How can students find out more about employment opportunities?

“Students are always welcome to stop in and inquire about employment.  We don’t always have openings but do like to hire outgoing, well-informed, experienced sports enthusiasts who can dedicate consistent hours.”

• Anything else you would like to add?

“Playback Sports loves being part of the Tacoma Community.  We live and play here too!  We support local sports, sponsor teams, volunteer with teams and outdoor organizations, and encourage kids to get involved too.  We always make sure that kids leave the store with the gear they need to play and make up the cost if necessary.”

Check them out at 2621 N. Proctor St. Tacoma, WA 98407. Playback Sports is open 7 days a week!