(PHOTO: Rink-Pro owner Luc Forget (left) with long-time employee Rick Spencer at the store in Jackson Trails Plaza. Photo by Barry Gray.)
(EDITOR’S NOTE: After 15 years in the business, the owner of Rink-Pro Sports is closing down his retail operation but won’t be stepping away entirely from the local sports community. We spoke to Luc Forget last weekend about the store’s history and what’s next for him. Here’s an edited transcript of what he had to say.)
“It’s an opportunity I’m taking. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster, both sales wise, and I was going through several attempts at selling the store. What I decided instead of renewing our lease or moving to another location is I would close the store.
The store is not paying for itself. We’re finding that a lot of people are moving towards online format buying and they’re using stores to try stuff on, although that’s more in the hockey world than in other niches. We had a very strong following in ringette and broomball and curling, but it still wasn’t enough to make the store viable…
We started the business 15 years ago, my kids have worked here for me, and a lot of people’s kids. I’ve kind of “adopted” a lot of kids and I’ve been fortunate that the people who I brought into my Rink-Pro family have treated me and the business like that. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people and we had a community sports store. I very much understand why people are feeling bummed out that I’m closing. I think we’ve built a relationship with Stittsville and the families in the region.
I’d like to be able to spend more time with my family. My kids now reside on the west coast. My daughter’s in San Francisco, my son is in British Columbia. Just to get away to visit them (while running the store) is becoming a logistical nightmare…
I’m eliminating the retail portion, but we will continue through an online format and a person-to-person business. I won’t be sharpening skates but we’ll be doing custom teamwear – jerseys and uniforms. I’ve talked to current clients and they’re elated with that. Long-term I’d like to get back into technical training in the telecom industry in Kanata. I used to do it in the 90’s with Mitel. I learned as much as my students.
When we moved to Stittsville around 2001 my daughter started playing ringette, and in 2002 we started doing business in-home. We took over White Line Sports at Hobin & Main Street in 2003 to extend the ringette business and started doing hockey. We grew so big there was no room in the store. It was a 900-square-foot store with one skate sharpening machine and on a Saturday afternoon I’d be sharpening 100 skates on my own.
Eventually we settled on the Jackson Trails project just underway, I think about ten years ago around November 2008. There were setbacks, like when Hazeldean Road was shut down while they were building the bridge, and then Pro Hockey Life opened in Kanata…
We’re open til January 25, that’s the last official day open. We’re slowly finding people for our fixtures and equipment. The skate sharpening machine has been sold.
It’s been 15 years, I raised my kids through this business… time for the next chapter!”
After many years, a local hockey business is closing it’s doors. Rink Pro sports in Stittsville on Hazeldean will shut down Jan 25,stop in and thank Luke, he will be missed @StittsCentral @StittsvilleVA @KMHANews @SMHARAMS #ottawa @wcwhockey #kanata #stittsville @marianne4kanata
— 🇺🇸Rich B🇨🇦🌹 (@Yankee_n_Canada) January 5, 2018