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The Lax Shop opens Bannockburn store in lacrosse ‘hotbed’

The Lax Shop

2575 Waukegan Road, Bannockburn

Grand opening: 2 to 6 p.m. Friday, June 7

Regular hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday; noon to 5 p.m., Sunday; closed Monday

Contact: 847-945-8529;;

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Updated: July 9, 2013 6:11AM

Lake Forest native Justin Smith believes he’s found the lacrosse Mecca on the North Shore with the third location for The LAX Shop.

“We’re totally in the center of the lacrosse hotbed in the northern suburbs,” Smith said of the store, located at 2575 Waukegan Road in Bannockburn. “Lake Forest, Stevenson, Highland Park, Deerfield and Lake Forest Academy. They’re all right here.”

Located in Bannockburn Green, on the southeast corner of Half Day and Waukegan roads, high school players can easily access the shop themselves.

“They get off school and come straight here on the two main thoroughfares,” Smith said of his strategic location.

Once there, players will find everything they need to outfit themselves for the quickly-growing sport, including a large dollop of expertise to go along with it. All workers played and coached lacrosse themselves and can custom string a lacrosse stick to a player’s specifications.

The LAX Shop in Bannockburn offers the same “wow” factor found at the Chicago store: A shooting cage — complete with radar gun — where players can try out sticks and get expert advice on how to improve their shooting, catching and goal-tending.

“We make sure they know what they’re doing before they walk out of the store,” Smith said.

In the time the 38-year-old Smith has played the sport, he’s seen the exponential growth firsthand.

“When I played for Lake Forest High School as a freshman, there were eight high school teams. We were one of the original founding teams,” he said.

By his senior year, in 1993, there were 13.

“Now there are 120 teams in Chicago metropolitan area. It’s exploding,” he said.

Local retail expertise and coaching has not kept pace with the rise in popularity in the sport.

“There really wasn’t anything out there done the right way for parents who don’t know anything about the sport. That’s when I realized this is what I need to do,” said Smith, who played All American at Denison University.

He opened his first store at 1216 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago three years ago and a second smaller store in Naperville last year.

“We’re mostly known as a one-stop shop for boys and girls, men, women for everybody for lacrosse. We’re a specific-only store,” Smith said.

The 2,500-square-foot Bannockburn shop offers every piece of equipment a player needs including custom team gloves, pads, helmets and uniforms. A former goalie, Smith set up a goaltenders section bigger than entire lacrosse sections at other stores.

Girls and women will find their own separate area, albeit much smaller than the men’s.

“Girls just need goggles and a stick,” Smith explained.

But with the girls’ game taking off right now, Smith and his crew offer them same expert advice.

“We know a lot about the girls side of the game, as well,” Smith said. “We can provide them with top-of-the-line equipment and starter stuff.”

Both girls and boys will find a big selection of socks in every color and pattern — a must-have for teens and youth players.

“Kids love the socks. The socks are your identity,” Smith said.

Colored mesh and laces for their stick heads also lets players show their own personality.

“I only hire guys that love to string sticks,” he said. And with good reason: “The guys that love it know the game and appreciate the game take the time to make sure everything is done right.”

The store’s grand opening will be from 2 to 6 p.m. on Friday, June 7, featuring the STX RV with some of their sponsored athletes.

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