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Crow’s back

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The bell on the front door rings as a costumer enters the front door of the N.A.C. Logistics and Crow’s Sports shop which is located in the former Sperling’s Furniture building on Ford Street in Ogdensburg.

Crow Smith, the owner of both enterprises, quickly interrupts a phone call and responds to the bell. Then his 74-year old eyes quickly share the same light of those of Nathan and Broadie Irvine who enter the shop with their dad, Tim Irvine, looking for a new Crow stick for the upcoming Minor Hockey season.

“Now that would make a great picture, those two kids with a Crow stick” says Smith and the picture is quickly taken and just might make its way to a small photo gallery on the wall where pictures of other minor hockey players hang next to a photo Smith with NHL greats Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy.

Crow Smith has come full circle back to the beginning of his career as entrepreneur in the sporting goods business which began in the 1950s when he opened Crow’s Sports in Massena.

The second of the four children of Pappy and Mina Smith, who operated Ogdensburg Bowl for many years before passing it on to their son Ty Smith, Smith was intrigued with the technical aspects of sports since childhood. He drilled bowling balls when his father operated a bowling house in Massena and tinkered with bicycles.

He quickly combined his technical skills with his great passion for hockey when he patented the first quick release plastic holder for hockey skate blades and the first composite hockey sticks.

Smith also coached Massena youth teams at several age groups over a 30-year span.

“I was 19 years old when I first tried Crow’s blades and I couldn’t believe how quickly I could cut and turn. It changed the game of hockey,” says Ogdensburg’s Ernie Jeneault while checking out an order at the shop.

The business grew and for the 10 years it became the largest hockey store in the United States selling the sticks and blades to mites at the youth level all the way to the biggest names in the NHL. Along with the hockey business, bicycle sales remained steady.

In 1990, Smith, closed his shop in Massena when his major suppliers: Sherwood Sticks, Doaust Skates, Rawlings Protective Equipment and Schwin Bicycles all ceased to operate.

After closing the shop, Smith maintained a series of enterprises involving hockey sticks and blades and including a moisture-management clothing line large enough to fill a 72,000 shirt order for a Green Bay Packers - Chicago Bears game and an order for 25,000 shirts by Ironman Triathlon.

Eight years ago he moved N.A.C. Logistics from New Jersey to Ogdensburg and this year the currents in the business ocean led him to reopen Crow’s Sports shop.

Crow’s Sports now offers a full line of hockey gear and accessories anchored by the Crow and Quik blades and sticks, a state of the art skate sharpening machine, an inventory of skates, lacrosse sticks and skate boards and a full scale bicycle shop, managed by Ogdensburg native Kyle Rhodes, which carries four major bicycle lines in Schwin, GT, Canondale and Dyno.

“The time seemed right to get back into it so I made the decision says Smith who operates the shop seven days a week (Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m. until noon).

“The interest in bicycle riding is at the highest ever and I am really happy to have a young guy like Kyle running the shop. There was a time when kids rode their bikes until they were in junior high and then never rode them again. All that has changed now, people ride bikes all their lives.”

Smith, who lives in Ogdensburg with his wife 55 years Ellen, is looking forward to renewing ties with his former customers and longtime friends and developing new ones.

“This a shop driven business and we are open seven days a week. I think we can offer fair prices because it is just Kyle and I here. The thing I most enjoy is when people stop in and say how happy they are that there a shop like ours in town” says Smith.

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