The Trail Smoke Eaters have a strong backing of fans due in part to the efforts of the franchise supporting the community via fundraisers, youth hockey, and team events. Owners Rich and Annie Murphy stepped up the team’s product on and off the ice as a way to try and pay it forward to the fans who have supported the Smoke Eaters through good and bad. Bringing the level of the Smoke Eaters product up to new and higher heights has had a significant impact.
From alumni to new players, the production level gives them more confidence as the Murphys have provided a professional feel to the game. Seeing the big screen at the home end of the ice and spotlights with the Smoke Eaters crest are just a few things that give the players the feel of big league hockey.
The hub for anything team related is easily the Smoke Eaters store located in the Trail Memorial Arena with its entrance along the front of the building. Here they are more than happy to answer any questions people might have about merchandise, season tickets, players and staff, as well as BCHL season information.
In need of some Smokies merch? Our store is open Monday through Friday from 11-3. Check out our online store, with pickup and delivery options available upon ordering. https://t.co/DLr7YpfHLo
Keep an eye out for new merchandise coming soon! pic.twitter.com/VmWZRBoklo
— Trail Smoke Eaters (@BCHLSmokeEaters) July 6, 2020
The Smoke Eaters shop is open from 11 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday. Fans in the West Kootenays can stop in to see the smiling faces of Smoke Eaters staff such as Rachel Swanson and Alison McCarthy. Swanson is the one you are more likely to run into when visiting the store in person as she is in charge of merchandise and souvenirs.
If you wondered why every season has new merchandise and how it gets chosen, the Murphys, with assistance from Swanson, work very closely with VH Sport to bring in products they think Trail will love.
Swanson explains that it’s a lengthy process. “We spend hours going through catalogues and searching online for different styles and items. Once we have compiled a list, VH Sport brings in a sample of each item. We get to try the items on to know how they fit and feel, and determine if it is the right item or not.”
With every new season, they continue to stock the standard t-shirts and hats that are very popular among the whole community. Still, they maintain a fresh stock that allows them to branch out and try a new style, such as the flannel shirts and Sherpa sweaters they brought in last season.
Of course, they carry the replica jerseys for all sizes, and each season they rotate what jersey they have in stock. For the 2018-19 season, they stocked the black away jersey and the white home jersey. For 2019-20, they brought in just the orange alternate jersey since the design was new to them. “Everyone loves an orange Smokies jersey,” Swanson chimed in.
For the upcoming season, the Smoke Eaters store is bringing in just the black away jersey due to the global pandemic and having to limit their merchandise.
The store is open for business, but there are protocols in place, as they are only allowing one person or family who lives under the same roof into the store at a time. They’ve also asked for people to allow for the staff to grab the items, as they are keen on sanitizing their hands, any surfaces, and products.
Like many other businesses, they’ve asked customers to sanitize their hands upon entry as well for the safety of the community. They do have the online option with pick up in-store or even free delivery in select areas of the local region.
According to McCarthy, all those who volunteer for the Smoke Eaters are an essential part of the organization. “Behind every hockey game, there is an entire team of volunteers, an extension of the Trail Smoke Eaters family. Whether you see them or not, they are there working tirelessly, helping to keep our organization in motion, ensuring the best game-night experience for our fans. Our Trail Smoke Eaters volunteer family is big, and we are so blessed and forever grateful for each and every one of these amazing individuals,” she described.
An album full of the GREATEST fans in the BCHL. Share with us any fan photos you would like to include. Looking forward…
The Smoke Eaters, like every junior hockey franchise, are always looking for individuals who would like to volunteer and be a part of their family. Running a junior A hockey team has many moving parts, and without the help of volunteers, the success would not be possible.
There are a variety of volunteer positions available. If you like cooking, there is the Spud Shack that supplies burgers, fries, hot dogs and chicken fingers. If you have Serving It Right, there is the Sud Shack where you deal with drinks, usually of the adult variety.
The snack shop is always looking for volunteers to help with snacks, soft drinks, and popcorn. Ticket, program and souvenir sellers and various other game night operation positions such as goal judges and 50/50 vendors are available as well. Although these examples are specific to Trail, you’ll likely find the same with any junior hockey team in your community.
Benefits of helping out
All of the volunteers choose to help for many reasons, whether they have a deep tie with the franchise running through the generations of their families, or just feel like giving back to a meaningful part of their lives.
McCarthy explains there are many benefits to volunteering. “Supporting the development of junior hockey in the community. Being involved with a well-loved sporting experience, learning new skills and work experience, meeting and working with other amazing people, and invitations to volunteer at appreciation and other relevant events,” she said. “The volunteers make a difference to the organization, the sport, and the community.”
Hard-working and dedicated volunteers get their recognition from the community, as well as some sponsors, one such corporate partner is Kurtis’ No Frills.
Owner Kurtis MacGullivray has teamed up with the marketing staff to put together a partnership that has allowed the organization to highlight one of the incredible volunteers each month. “The volunteer’s contribution is highlighted on our video wall and social media platforms. The No Frills volunteer of the month also receives a $50 No Frills gift card, generously donated by Kurtis’ No Frills,” McCarthy explains.
Behind every hockey game there is an entire team of volunteers, an extension of the Trail Smoke Eaters family. Whether…
Ticket packages are on hold for the time being until a clearer picture of what the season will look like is available. Updates for the fans will be posted on social media platforms and the Smoke Eaters website with new information as it is received.