For September, Shopbot’s Merchant of the Month is one of the oldest still operating snowboard specialist retailers in Canada. Since its creation in 1989, PRFO Sports is driven by its passion for outdoor sports and what nature has to offer.
Thirty-one years later, PRFO Sports has now diversified its product mix and have been praised for their tech-savvy skills. That’s because when the retail landscape dramatically changed in 2008, they adapted their offers, improved their products’ quality and developed a specialized online presence.
Making the most out of challenges
Located at St-Sauveur-des-Monts, in the Laurentian mountains of Québec, just north of Montreal, PRFO Sports saw their brick and mortar store threatened after the U.S market crash in 2008. As consumer behavior changed, and users started doing online shopping, they adapted to the trend by taking the challenge head-on. That year, two young entrepreneurs took over PRFO Sports, Jason Mclean and Alexandre Filion.
They took their shop online. This went beyond setting up an online store for users to virtually load their shopping carts. Because buying outdoor sports apparel and winter sports products isn’t something users do daily, they made their gear specialists more accessible to their customers online. Either via online chat, e-mail or phone, the bilingual gear specialists are available to ensure consumers make the right choices of equipment and technical apparel.
PRFO Sports set themselves apart by distinguishing themselves from mainstream platforms such as eBay and Amazon. Their goal is to take the experience provided by the story to the user across Canada through the virtual world. They explained:
”We chose to embrace the online growing shopping trend by sharing our expertise and renowned customer service to customers across the country via the internet while at the same time keeping an emphasis on local service-based products such as bike tune-ups and ski repairs.”
Like any local business, they went through some rebranding. Their logo is now a symbol representative of different sectors attached to their brand’s culture and spirit. More than selling apparel for adventurous souls, PRFO Sports is also always ready for a challenge!
This Canadian business is a great example of how to transform a niche market in times of hardship, take all the opportunities to keep evolving your business’s identity and continuously keep in touch with your audience.