"There’s games, clothing and homewares, winter pyjamas to keep you toasty, and books and games for whiling away the afternoons"
By Fiona Stocker.
Many an AFL fan has beaten a path to the door of Balls n Bumpers. With its array of guernseys and memorabilia stretching deep into the block on Charles Street, it’s a one stop-shop for everything the footie fan and car enthusiast could possibly want – and then a bit more!
Jane and Scott Freeman count their ownership of the store in seasons, and they’re now into their seventh. Bringing people together over a love of the game, the store is more of a community hub. While wives and girlfriends shop nearby, husbands and boyfriends check out the new season guernseys and merchandise, and maybe play a game of eight ball.
With everything imaginable in the way of novelty gifts and collectibles, fans can nail their colours to the mast in a myriad of ways. There’s games, clothing and homewares, winter pyjamas to keep you toasty, and books and games for whiling away the afternoons.
A huge part of the fun is the ‘meet and greet’ events which bring top players to the store. Dads and kids get an autograph and a photo with their hero, and mums get to ‘meet the crush’, laughs Jane. The players love it too, she says, as encounters with the fans are just as important as the fixtures. If she had to pick favourites, it would be Gary Ablett and Josh Kennedy, and now she’s setting her sights on a visit from Max Gawn – keep an eye on the Balls n Bumpers website or Facebook page for updates.
Up the back of the shop, the garage-like space is kept cosy with a wood-burner, and there’s always a ‘street machine’ lent by a customer parked there. But this is no men’s shed – as past school holidays have seen it become an impromptu family meeting spot with couches for mums, toys for kids and deliveries of toasties and coffee from the café round the corner.
Jane still doesn’t know much about football herself, she says. ‘But my regulars love to tell me all about it, and we just have lots of fun.’ Which is why the shop remains a firm favourite.
Balls n Bumpers 171 Charles Street, Launceston.