“At first, distributors were hesitant to work with us, afraid that we weren’t large enough and would go out of business. Parts Canada has been there for us from the start. In 2011 Halifax Motorsports was rated their No. 2 dealer in the province.”
Redden says now that the other suppliers have noticed the impact his store is making in the area, he’s getting more offers. He has exclusives with brands including SCOTT Sports for high-end wintersports and racing gear, and recently cemented a relationship with KYMCO Canada. Halifax Motorsports also carries hard-to-locate racing parts and accessories, and gets the word out by sponsoring several of racing teams each year.
Website and social media participation is mostly used to bring people into the store. Redden says less than 10 percent of his sales are from the website; the combination of his customers’ desire to handle product and the Canadian import tax fees work in his favor when competing with other online retailers.
“We do get a few people who come in and then try to buy the same apparel online, but if they are shopping a non-Canadian website, the Canadian government imposes an 18 percent fee on top of the buyer’s total purchase price. If the item doesn’t fit or needs to be returned, the buyer rarely gets that 18 percent back,” he says. “We’ve also been told that often online inventory is several years behind the new technology we feature in our store items. When customers add shipping costs and the Canadian fees to their online orders, for an item that isn’t even exactly what they found at our store, they find our pricing is very competitive.”
Redden says his customers are often multi-vehicle riders, owning ATVs and snowmobiles for winter and cruisers and racing bikes for summer. This means he has double opportunities to sell to them.
He notes that his customer’s purchasing decisions are different, depending on their ride. “When April comes, we totally re-outfit the store to reflect the motorcycle season. Say a guy is looking for a leather jacket. He’ll try on every style to get the fit right, ask if it’s adjustable, get kind of fussy. In November we bring out our ATV and snowmobile inventory. Then our customers have only one question: Is it warm? I’ll take it!”
Several times a year, Redden packs up the store and sets up his display at the three large sports expos. He especially enjoys the annual Wharf Rat Rally in Digby (pop. 2,100) on Labor Day Weekend, which brings in 50,000 riders.
When asked if anyone ever tests the buoyancy of those flotation suits when the water warms up in summer, Scott politely declined to speculate. “They do have a lot fun here!”
This story appears in the February 2014 issue of Dealernews