Canada: Sporting Life comes to Calgary with first store outside Ontario
And, at 44,000 square feet, the store gives Calgarians a greater choice of sporting goods and stylish casual wear.
Sporting Life was founded in Toronto by Brian McGrath and the husband-and-wife team of Patti and David Russell, the firm’s CEO.
The first store opened on Yonge Street in Toronto, selling mostly winter-related equipment and clothing. All three partners were avid skiers but soon added running and tennis equipment.
Russell says the business gradually added casual lifestyle clothing, and by 1985 had evolved into a classy retail store offering a full range of sporting goods and athletic fashions.
In the 1990s, a second store opened in Toronto’s west end and included a separate building for bicycles. Another expansion in 2000 added a ski/snowboard shop at the Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood.
The success of the retail business caught the attention of Prem Watsa of Fairfax Financial, and in late 2011 the co-founders of Sporting Life sold a 75 per cent stake to fund an expansion of new stores across the country.
Another store will be open this month at the Hillcrest Mall in Richmond Hill, Ont., but the Calgary location will be its first venture outside of Ontario.
“It’s very exciting to bring the Sporting Life story to these new markets,” said John Roe, director of marketing and advertising for Sporting Life.
“It’s a home-grown Canadian success story with no one quite like us in the industry. And when it came to expanding our presence across Canada, Calgary seemed the perfect fit from its strong Olympic roots to its close proximity to the Rocky Mountains.”
The Southcentre store will be managed by Ian Jacobson who has been an employee for many years and successfully opened the first of Toronto’s new stores – and he was first to ask for a move to Calgary.
George Kish, an employee from the start in 1979, will run the equipment side of the store.
Sporting Life has over 1,300 employees in its company stores.
Russell said further expansion will see another store opening in the former Target space at Market Mall, one in Edmonton and three locations in Vancouver.
Source: Calgary Herald
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