Delaware State News 01/10/2011, Page A14

Sports equipment store has LAX attitude

Voodoo Lacrosse in Camden seeks to fill niche in growing sport

By Jamie-Leigh Bissett

Delaware State News CAMDEN — When Beth and Trevor Johnson created a business plan in order to secure funding for Voodoo Lacrosse, a new lacrosse equipment store on Willow Grove Road in Camden, their goal was a bit of a head-scratcher for the loan offi cers at the bank.

“Our corporate goal is to break even,” Mr. Johnson said, adding that if they had any inclination to make money off their new business venture, they probably “wouldn’t be doing it” at all.

“I can think of 99 better ways to make money,” he said.

So, then, why are the Johnsons open­ing an equipment store they don’t intend to make any money off of for a sport that has yet to completely take off in Delaware?

“It’s a community service to the lacrosse community,” Mr. Johnson said. “ The i ssue is, where are kids getting their gear? Online mostly, but they can’t try it on. They get it, and if it doesn’t fi t, they kind of have to deal with it. Our hope is that we can provide In­ternet pricing with local service.”

He said families now travel as far as An­napolis or Towson, Md., to get their equip­ment, “so why not drive 30 minutes from Middletown to get equipment?”

Mr. Johnson said he understands that the customer base for Voodoo Lacrosse will be limited at first. However, as the Camden Midstate Lacrosse Club, which he and oth­ers founded in 2005, continues to expand, so will the need for equipment.

“ When we started that youth program we had one team with 15 kids. Last year we had eight teams, and about 150 kids. That’s just the boys’ sides. I think the girls’ league is something similar,” he said.

Mr. Johnson also said word- of-mouth will also go a long way.

“ Kids in the lacrosse community will have to support it if they want it to stay,” he said, adding, “ We’ll give it fi ve years and if we break even, then we’ve probably done a lot of good along the way.”

Mr. Johnson said Voodoo Lacrosse will sell girls and boys equipment including sticks, helmets and shoulder pads, as well as T-shirts, including those with a Voodoo Lacrosse logo on the front.

He said he and his wife will work there, as will their three sons, Brooks, 18, Bubba, 17, and Gehrig, 14. Additional manpower, Mr. Johnson said, will be provided by two groups: Kids from the lacrosse community who the Johnsons know and trust, and students from Charlton School, a special needs education facility in the Caesar Rod­ney School District.

“Our youngest boy is special needs and he is going to CR next year. His teacher told us we needed to fi nd a place for him to work a couple of hours a day, and when we were exploring where kid s like him get an opportunity, the list wasn’t all that long. So I said, ‘ We’ve been talking about (open­ing the shop) for a long time, so let’s take a chance. The worse that can happen to us is we go out of business. At least we can try and do some good in the meantime,’” he said.

The seed for Voodoo Lacrosse was planted about 10 years ago when Brooks and Bubba told their parents they didn’t want to play baseball anymore, but instead wanted to try a new sport called lacrosse.

Being from California, Mr. Johnson said the only time he had ever had any exposure to lacrosse prior to that was in college at the University of Delaware.

But, if his boys wanted to play, he said he would do anything in his power to make it happen.

“I learned a little bit from guys … who had been involved with the game outside of Delaware and I started to fi gure out some things on my own. I fi gured, whatever the kids wanted to be involved with, we were going to be i nvolved in,” he said.

Mr. Johnson said in 2005, he started the Midstate Lacrosse Club that consisted of one team. Then, the club merged with the Camden Lacrosse Club in 2007 to form the Camden Midstate Lacrosse Club, which is now part of the Eastern Shore Youth Lacrosse Association (ESYLA).

He said he and the other founders decided from the outset that if a kid wanted to play lacrosse, he or she should be able to, no matter their family’s economic standing.

“ That’s probably one of the best things we ever did,” Mr. Johnson said. “ We started buying equipment each year for kids who didn’t have the money, or who wanted to try it, but their parents didn’t want to invest a lot of money in it. As a club, we would get the equipment back at the end of the year and loan it again the next year.”

So instead of buying and loaning equipment ever y year, Mr. Johnson said he decided to begin selling equipment for a more than reasonable price, although he said he doesn’t believe Voodoo will become a used equipment store at any point.

“If someone brought good, used equipment to us, we would use it for club. I’d be more than happy to fi nd a good spot for it,” he said.

Mr. Johnson said the name Voodoo Lacrosse doesn’t have a meaning behind it, only that it is a “pretty cool” and unique name and logo.

“ We were trying to do something a little different that would stick out a little bit and help spread the word,” he said.

Mr. Johnson said what he does hope, is the name Voodoo Lacrosse will become synonymous with quality service to the local lacrosse community.

“If we can break even, and provide a good service to the lacrosse commu-nity, and provide special need s kids with a friendly work environment, then we’ve done something,” he said.

Voodoo Lacrosse will officially open on Saturday. The store hours will be Monday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

For more information, call 697-1167, or 562-4906.

Delaware State News/ Jamie-Leigh Bissett

The Johnsons, from left, Beth, Gehrig, 14, Bubba, 17, Brooks, 18, and Trevor, will run and operate Voodoo La­crosse, at 12312 Willow Grove Road in Camden, which will officially open on Saturday at noon.