Given the craze for sports memorabilia, it had to happen. Online Web stores are now offering fans the chance to get up close and personal with the blood and sweat of their favourite hockey heroes—without having to go near the ice. Following are some of the sites that flog stained and ripped jerseys, worn sticks and shin pads, as well as other hockey curios:
www.dropthegloves.com: Co-owner Bryan Kurzman claims this Newton, Mass.-based site offers some of the dirtiest gear with signs of memorable rough play. Check out tough guy Bob Probert’s Chicago Blackhawks jersey, worn in the 1996-1997 season, priced at $1,700 and featuring black stick and puck marks with “excellent fight abuse showing.” Tim Hunter’s Calgary Flames jersey, which boasts bloodstains, sliced sleeves, torn collar and overall “excellent general filth,” recendy sold for $750
www.game-worn.com: Owner Joe Polseno, an apple farmer in Rhode Island, has gems like Bobby Orr dolls for $90, a can of Rocket Richard tomato soup on which bidding starts at $75, as well as the Toledo Storm jersey worn by U.S. women’s Olympic goalie Erin Whitten—the first woman credited with a win in the pros.
www.byronshockeyland.com: Retired police detective Milton Byron, a collector for 18 years, put his store online last year. Known for using his investigative skills to authenticate wares, Byrons New Jersey-based site includes a chat room, advice on how to tell a fake, and a list of some 2,500 jerseys he has in stock. Many of those have board burns—colour pressed into the fabric as players were slammed or dragged along the boards. Wayne Gretzky’s 1991 Canada Cup Jersey recently sold at this site for $12,000, but Colorado Avalanche forward Joe Saldes road jersey, replete with stick marks and board burns, is still available for $6,000.
Jamming with Gates
Look out Sony Corp. and the Walkman, Bill Gates and Microsoft Corp. are trying to win over customers’ ears. Microsoft has partnered with the Illinois-based I-Jam Multimedia, makers of one of the funkiest and loudest portable digital music players to hit the market.
The machine, called I-Jam, fits in the palm and can play back music downloaded from the In-
ternet in either MP3 or Windows Media format. I-Jam comes with a built-in FM radio and allows for random playback of recorded digital tracks. The manufacturer claims it has a maximum audio output of 60 megawatts compared with the market average of five megawatts.
Microsoft aims to challenge MP3’s dominance in downloadable music bell cause Windows Media files are more « compressed, allowing I-Jam to store ^ twice as much music as MP3-only players. While I-Jam plans to pump up the volume on digital music around the globe, so far it is only available to Americans at www.ijamworld.com for
Some vacationers are getting help to shoulder the burden of baggage so they can fly with carry-ons only. Virtual Bellhop (www.virtualbellhop.com), operated by Travelite, a Volo, 111.-based shipping company, now offers door-todoor baggage service. It contracts messenger and express companies to pick up luggage and deliver it to hotels at the time its owners are scheduled to check in. Bellhop’s fees, much like couriers United Parcel Service (www.ups.com) and Federal Express (www.fedex.com), are based on weight and distance, and can run as high as the price of another airplane ticket. Unlike couriers, Bellhop will package scuba equipment, skis or even wheelchairs and will also hold onto luggage that arrives ahead of its owner. So far, the service is only available within the United States, but the company plans to offer it in Canada by 2001.
Fedex operates a similar program with several lodges and resorts in the United States, but has no plans yet to tote bags north of the border.
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