October 7, 2022

Sports is a religion for countless fans and athletes. They look to the heavens for good weather and good luck. They thank the gods for the grace and stamina and skill that bring about victory. And they believe in miracles.
Well, then, Team Vineyard, it’s time to pray for the one and only full-service sporting goods store on the Island. Sports Haven, the small but mighty three-room shop in Vineyard Haven that has supplied us for 27 years with equipment, clothing and personal service, is about to go out of business.
Bill Miner, the shop’s owner, says that he cannot afford the higher rent his new landlord is asking, and if he cannot find a more affordable commercial and residential space, he says, game over.
This would be a terrible loss for our community. And for my family, personally.
Bill is the best kind of small businessman. He treats us not merely as customers but as friends.
When my one of my sons lost a mouthguard before a hockey game, when another needed to get sized for his first soccer cleat, when I had to grab my children tennis whites for those free Wednesday youth matches in the summer —there was always one place to go.
Bill greets us by name. He personally fits my oldest son for his annual lacrosse equipment.
And when the supply chains choked up during Covid? Bill held a used lacrosse equipment sale to make sure local kids got the stuff they needed to play. He is honest, as well, putting relationships above profit, showing me which pieces of sports equipment I can scrimp on and which are worth a splurge.
Last Christmas, even though I was ordering past the deadline, Bill put my kids names’ on the backs of Vineyard sports jerseys. Then he went out of his way to get one made for my son’s friend whose birthday is Dec. 26th.
That just doesn’t happen when you’re buying from Amazon or Dick’s Sporting Goods, no matter how hard you pray.
Bill sponsors countless Island teams, including my friends’ adult soccer teams. And he cares about our kids’ safety. When my older son bought his first pair of inline skates, Bill told him, “You have to wear the wrist guards and helmet no matter what.”
I appreciate online shopping for paper towels as much as any sane mother, but small businesses like Bill’s play an important role in our community — strengthening relationships, teaching our kids about responsible entrepreneurship, supporting local causes, helping the environment (no ordering four pairs of cleats and mailing back the duds), and providing professional service.
We’ve already lost too many members of our team. I miss Educomp, don’t you? I used to love walking through its aisles, taking in the smell of art supplies, studying paint colors to get inspiration for a project. And the owners were always generous with community donations as well.
If we don’t fight for the survival of businesses like Sports Haven, we risk turning into an Island of seasonal ice cream shops and exclusive boutiques.
Islanders banded together to save Bunch of Grapes. And Leslie’s Drug Store, which nearly went out of business two years ago, managed to keep going largely because the community rallied behind the long-time owners. We have the creativity and resources to preserve Sports Haven, too. And if we do, we all win.
People with suggestions are encouraged to contact Bill at 508-243-1654 or at info@mvsportshaven.com.
Moira Silva is a writer and writing instructor who lives in West Tisbury.

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