BOARDMAN -- Good timing was a good friend to Steve and Marc Ostrolenk when they got the idea to add another dimension to their father-son relationship.
Marc Ostrolenk was a student at Ohio University in Athens in the early 1990s, working toward a marketing degree; his father, Steve, had a career in marketing kitchen and bath products and was looking to start his own business.
Steve liked the idea of acquiring and running a sporting goods franchise with a catchy name and an established record -- as well as a concept to set it apart from anything else in the Mahoning Valley. In November 1992, the father and son agreed to pair up for the opening of Play it Again Sports.
"This made a lot of sense," Steve Ostrolenk recalled. "The franchise was about 2 years old then and growing. I was allowed to run the business in a flexible manner and cater to the local clientele."
The new business owners learned quickly that golf and in-line skating were popular among the local clientele, so they made an effort to offer a variety of new and used equipment for those sports and many others.
"We saw what kids wanted, and skates and in-line skates are big," Marc Ostrolenk said.
The partners have noticed that some forms of skating and skateboarding which were once considered extreme sports have become more mainstream, resulting in more demand for the equipment.
Play It Again's trade-in policy is what sets the business apart from many others in the sporting goods industry, Steve Ostrolenk explained. Customers "can bring in something they [bought at the store] and trade it in toward something else in the store. We can also give you money for the item," he said.
The business relationship between owner and customer, however, isn't restricted to purchase and sale. The Ostrolenks take part in various fund-raisers, buying sporting goods equipment collected by members of local baseball, soccer and other teams. The idea is to raise money for whatever group, charity or event is being sponsored, Steve Ostrolenk added.
But Marc Ostrolenk's activities are not restricted to the purchasing, customer relations, hiring and sales end of Play it Again Sports.
He and another partner are preparing to open a 26,000-square-foot complex, Vert-I-Go Skate Park, later this month. The McClurg Road facility will feature numerous ramps, rails, wedges and pipes designed for biking, skating and skateboard enthusiasts to practice and polish their techniques.
"I've wanted to do this for years. I met a guy who also wanted a skate park, and we built everything ourselves," Marc Ostrolenk said.