The uninitiated might wonder how a store that's dedicated solely to lacrosse can open and survive on Broad Street in downtown Red Bank, an area typically reserved for high-end, national retail boutiques and modern restaurants.
But those who know lacrosse and its fans know that no matter where you build it, they will come. And one of those areas from which they will come is the neighboring Rumson-Fair Haven area.
Lacrosse Unlimited a growing lacrosse chain with 37 stores throughout the country, including five in New Jersey, recently opened its newest location in Red Bank. Lacrosse Unlimited is a full service lacrosse store providing custom string and dye jobs, apparel and equipment, among other accessories.
But it's knowledge, in addition to the store's significant supply, that sets Lacrosse Unlimited apart from mega-sports retailers.
Store Manager Shannon Kelly recounted a time she was managing at another New Jersey store when a novice lacrosse player came in looking for accessories and string for his new stick. Problem was, the stick he was carrying was a girl's stick, one he had purchased unknowingly — and had been sold unknowingly — at a large sports supply chain.
"If you go to a Dicks or a Sports Authority, you're getting a mass-produced stick," Kelly said. "If you're serious about lacrosse, you're not shopping there."
And when it comes to lacrosse, serious is certainly one way to describe its more ardent fans. So, too, is fanatical, or maybe even cult-like, though Kelly isn't willing to use that word because it invokes a negative connotation, she was once informed by a parent.
Those who find their way to the sport just sort of develop an affinity for it, something Kelly said you won't see happen as readily in most sports.
For one, the game, even for the youngest kids, is fast paced and requires plenty of activity. Parents tend to enjoy it too because, unlike sports like baseball, where even youth games can last more than two hours, each lacrosse game is just an hour long.
When it comes to getting kids involved, interested and excited in youth sports, getting out there and having fun is definitely a necessity. Lacrosse Unlimited District Manager Andy Fisher said lacrosse has got that.
"How many times have you seen a Little League game where the kid in right field is staring there for hours watching all the planes go by," Fisher asked. "In lacrosse, kids are always moving. It appeals to everyone. It appeals to the kids who get to play no matter how big they are and it appeals to parents because it's only an hour."
The location of the new store fits, too. Kelly that in Long Island where the first Lacrosse Unlimited store opened years ago, lacrosse is an obsession. There, kids play all year round for their high schools, traveling teams, winter leagues and in camps. While New Jersey's not there yet in terms of participation, the sport is growing rapidly, especially in this area.
Within just a couple of miles, Kelly noted, there are numerous high schools with established or emerging lacrosse programs, including Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, Red Bank Regional, Christian Brothers Academy and Red Bank Catholic.
And those who play lacrosse tend to stick with it, Fisher said.
"When you play lacrosse you become part of a group. It's a fraternity of sorts," he said. "That's what keeps you in. When you meet someone who plays lacrosse there's an immediate bond. It's a tight knit group."
Just so Lacrosse Unlimited's customers are aware, you're welcome to come hangout and talk lacrosse. They've even got an an affectionate nickname for those who do, too: laxrats.
Lacrosse Unlimited is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.