Riley Billy shows off just some of the hundreds of shoes available at Spinners Sports in the Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre.

Spinners Sports has evolved with its customers

Spinners Sports has been serving the needs of active Campbell River residents and visitors since 1968.

And in those decades, one thing is for sure – it hasn’t shied away from change.

Owner Craig Storfie has owned Spinners Sports for 40 years. He’s seen the store change locations – from Tyee Plaza to its current location at Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre – and change focus since the days when his father owned the store and he ran it.

And Storfie now has two stores, with a Nanaimo Spinners Sports now in its fourth year of business.

Storfie remembers that the store catered to outdoorspeople when his family first became involved.

“My parents lived in Comox and my dad was interested in the store because it was primarily fishing and hunting in those days,” he said. “He wanted to buy it and that I would run it. It started in Tyee Plaza at that time.”

Storfie has great memories of those early times.

“Those were fun times when we were in Tyee Plaza there with so much tourism in town, a lot of family camping, family fishing trips,” he said. “Campbell River had a lot going on in tourism in the 70s and 80s. You see kids that are excited for their first big camping trip or their first time going fishing on the saltwater. And then we had a lot of people who were coming here from the U.S. who had been coming here for 30 years; you had repeat customers like that who had been coming to this area for a long time fishing. There were a lot of movie stars back in those days too.”

Spinners Sports moved to Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre about 16 years ago. But what is stocked inside the store has changed even more than the building.

“It changes a lot,” said Storfie. “Probably the biggest change early on was when Mount Washington opened and we got into skiing and did that for several years. As it evolved, we put more effort into clothing and footwear and phased out some of these other departments.”

In the past, Spinners Sports even sold bicycles and focused on team sports such as hockey. Storfie recalls they also sold hardware when they first started.

“We didn’t keep that very long; there were a lot of other more interesting things to do,” he said with a laugh.

With all the transformation in the store’s past, Storfie doesn’t see major change in the future for Spinners Sports.

“I don’t see us doing anything significantly different than we currently are,” he said. “We like the areas that we’re doing business in and it keeps us full-on effort to keep those working. So no, it isn’t like the changes we made years ago where retail had really changed too from being much more general to (where) for the last number of years, you need to be really important to a customer. You want them to think of you first if they’re looking for the type of brands that you carry. A business needs to be a destination. It’s like a top-of-mind awareness.”

Deciding which products and brands to carry is a big part of establishing that awareness. Storfie and his daughter do the buying for the store and there is a lot that goes into those decisions.

“You’ve got history for the type of store that we are, and you look at market trends because brands are always rising or declining, there are not many that always rise,” he said. “We go to trade shows, we’ve been to trade shows in different parts of the world and it makes it more interesting. It’s a very dynamic business; it doesn’t sit still.”

Providing value and selection is important to Storfie.

“We’re very competitive both in price and selection,” he said.

Storfie says he still enjoys his job after all these years because it’s interesting and he enjoys doing business in the community.

“I think it’s an interesting type of business and it’s still being involved in business in the community, the way the community has changed over the years with all the good times and the challenges that are presented,” he said.

With all of these years of business experience, Storfie has learned a lot about how to maintain a successful, established business.

“You have to keep proving yourself to your customers; you can’t sit back and take it for granted that they’re going to shop with you,” he said.

Spinners Sports is located at 164-1436 Island Highway in the Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre.

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