After 32 years, the Victoria-based sports business has new owners
After 50 years in the ski shop business, the last 32 in the retail sale of skis and the rental of sports equipment, Bill Tinney hits the slopes whenever the mood takes him. The same goes for Sarah Tinney, his wife and business partner.
After 50 years in the ski shop business, the last 32 in the retail sale of skis and the rental of sports equipment, Bill Tinney hits the slopes whenever the mood takes him.
The same goes for Sarah Tinney, his wife and business partner. Together they rent and sell skis and snowboards, surfboards and paddleboards, camping and exercise gear, disc golf accessories and many other sport-related items. They have always tested their products, but now they can do all these things as they please.
The couple behind Sports Rent and Coastal Ski+Sport on Government Street sold the business, which continued on a ‘try it before you buy’ business plan.
The plan has served the Tinneys well, as Victoria’s independent sporting goods retailers have come and gone, victims of large national chains or consumer trends that can spend a lot of money on gear, then find they don’t. don’t like or have time for sports.
But Sports Rent has thrived, especially as public health orders have encouraged people to enjoy the great outdoors during the pandemic.
“We’ve never been busier, so it was a good time to get out,” said Bill Tinney, 62.
“With everyone staying close to home due to the pandemic, this has led to a high demand for outdoor sports equipment. All numbers continue to rise, ahead of projections. So it’s a win-win for both parties.
The new owners are Shelley Jones and Doug Woodrow, outdoor enthusiasts and long-time residents of Ladysmith who were looking for a change of pace in their lives.
Jones has worked in finance at a credit union for the past 20 years and Woodrow recently retired from the Royal Canadian Navy after 24 years as an explosive ordnance diver, including a tour of Afghanistan.
“We’re both looking forward to working for ourselves,” Jones said. “It’s a good deal, and we love to hear about people’s experiences in the outdoors.”
Bill Tinney will remain on a part-time basis as a consultant to help with the transition. Business continues as usual, with other key employees retained and a few new ones added. Among the remaining key employees are retail manager Brian Lowen, who has over 50 years of experience, and Matt Walker, who worked for Sports Traders for 25 years before joining Sports Rent.
The company was opened in 1989 by Bill Tinney and his brother Roger, then operated for 25 years by Bill Tinney and his partner Sarah. The first store was in Mayfair, but moved to the northern edge of the town centre, first on Discovery Street and since 2002 to its current location on Government Street.
Over the years, Tinney said, the company has provided thousands of outdoor enthusiasts with ski gear, snowboards, shop repairs and boot accessories, surf gear, tents and backpacks, fitness equipment, bicycles and much more. Tinney brought climbing gear, hockey and baseball gear, water skis, inline skates – even trampolines and snowshoes – following the trends of the day and the mantra of testing a particular sport with renting equipment rather than buying may be a better way to go.
Much of the activity is now sales-oriented as consumers flock to sports such as skiing and surfing, but rentals remain.
Bill Tinney is one of Canada’s longest-serving certified ski technicians since he was 16 years old. Originally from Prince Edward Island, he has ridden the Panorama and Blackcomb/Whistler trails.
He was also a college hockey player and business specialist at UPEI, and the sporting goods business was a natural fit.
He said surfing and more skiing were on the to-do list as he ventured into semi-retirement and sought other career interests and opportunities.