The former Smuggler's Inn in Sylvan Lake is being renovated as the new Hockey Central Sports Memorabilia store.

Memorabilia store relocating to ex-Smuggler’s Inn site

The former premises of Smuggler’s Inn and Ricardo’s Ristorante will soon return to commercial life, with their new incarnation having a strong sports presence.

SYLVAN LAKE — The former premises of Smuggler’s Inn and Ricardo’s Ristorante will soon return to commercial life, with their new incarnation having a strong sports presence.

Hockey Central Sports Memorabilia Inc. is preparing to relocate to the main floor of the 5000 Lakeshore Dr. building, with the second floor being developed into a sports lounge.

Jason Caldwell, manager of Hockey Central Sports Memorabilia, said the transition is expected to occur in mid to late May. He added that renovations have been ongoing for about a month.

“We’ve gutted it out pretty good.”

Hockey Central Sports Memorabilia, which is owned by Michelle Becker and Darren Field, has operated at nearby Marina Merchants Mall for 4 1/2 years. It carries a broad range of sports collectables and other items, including autographed photos, jerseys and equipment.

About 80 to 85 per cent of the store’s trade is hockey-related, said Caldwell, although football, baseball and other professional sports are also represented. He said the shop’s 2,000 square feet of space has become a constraining factor, but it will gain another 1,000 square feet at its new location.

“We should have room to increase the selection.”

It’s also expected that more athletes and celebrities will be brought in to the shop, said Caldwell. Past visitors have included NHL Hall of Famers Marcel Dionne, Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr.

The sports lounge will have seating for more than 100, said Caldwell, with team logos embroidered onto chairs, and stadium seating arranged around big-screen TVs. There will also be seating on the balcony, overlooking the lake.

In addition to increased space, Caldwell thinks Hockey Central Sports Memorabilia will benefit from its new location near the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and 50th Street.

“When tourists come to town, that’s where they turn around,” he said. “They don’t come out to where we are, past the waterslides and marina.”

Caldwell also believes the retail shop and sports lounge will complement each other.

“Everybody going up to the lounge or coming down from the lounge is going to have to go through the store.”

Smuggler’s opened at the site in 2005 and occupied both floors for several years. Eventually, Ricardo’s took over the main level.

The restaurants, which were owned by Bear Development Corp., closed last fall. Caldwell said Becker and Field purchased the building earlier this year.

“It’ll be pretty exciting,” he said of the changes.

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