In the 14 years he has been running his business, Powell River Outdoors (PRO) owner Sam Sansalone has witnessed several changes in how consumers purchase goods. Big box stores opening out of town and the increasing prevalence of online shopping has made it more difficult for small businesses to thrive and succeed.
“Before, if you needed goods you went to your local shop, now you have hundreds of choices,” says Sansalone, who has spent 30 years in the outdoor sporting goods industry. “Anyone who has a business knows how tough it is.”
After opening in 2002, PRO operated below Taws for 12 years before moving to its current location at 4466 Marine Avenue.
“We battled against all odds and now we’re here,” says Sansalone. “I want to congratulate all the businesses still open in Powell River; business owners know how difficult it can be.”
A strong advocate for local shopping, Sansalone says he does not expect everyone to shop in town 100 per cent of the time, but adds that even a small percentage can make a big difference.
In order to adapt to the changing business landscape, PRO plans to focus more on services big box and online stores cannot provide.
“We’ll tap more into the outdoor tourism market, including fishing charters,” says Sansalone, who, along with his son Nico, recently became a fully licensed fishing guide. “If you can’t get out fishing, call us and we will get you out on the water; it also makes for a great gift.”
For anyone with their own boat and fishing gear, but limited experience, PRO has another new service that comes with a guarantee of better results.
“What we offer is called ‘A-fish-cionados,’” says Sansalone. “It’s your boat and your gear, but with our pros.”
Rather than spending weeks or months trying to figure everything out on their own, clients will have a staff member onboard to make sure they do all the little things right.
“Some people buy boats and equipment, go fishing and don’t do very well,” says Sansalone. “They’ll learn more in a couple hours with us than they would in pretty much in a whole summer on their own.”
PRO also offers snowshoe rentals and is looking into small boat and kayak rentals for the new year.
“Now, instead of turning customers away, we’re going to offer those services as well,” says Sansalone.
In addition to offering products related to outdoor sporting activities, which includes fishing, hunting, camping and backcountry supplies, PRO also acts as an information hub for visitors and new residents.
“Our location acts as a gateway to Powell River: where to go, where not to go, where to fish, where not to fish, and for safety,” he says. “When people walk through the door they receive the best information, whether it’s where to eat or where to spend time before the ferry comes in. If we don’t know the answer, we contact someone who does.”
PRO also offers the Conservation Outdoor Recreation Education (CORE) program and the firearms course.
“If you have any firearms-related questions, or firearms you no longer want, we will buy or sell them on consignment,” says Sansalone.
Whether a customer is experienced or just starting out, staff has the knowledge to deal with all of their outdoor requirements.
“We don’t just sell the products in our store; we use them,” says Sansalone. “If we’re going to stock something, we learn about it first, and we match prices 99 per cent of the time”
To thank loyal shoppers, PRO will host a customer appreciation sale on Friday, December 9, and Saturday, December 10, between 9 am-5 pm. A flyer inside this edition of Peak Weekender contains more details and many gift ideas.
“We are grateful for everyone who helped get us here,” says Sansalone. “This is a big thank-you to all the people who have supported us over the years.”
Regular store hours are 9 am-5 pm, Monday to Saturday. Until Christmas, the store will be open Sundays from 11 am-4pm.
“Going forward, we are excited about the future of Powell River, and the PRO shop,” says Sansalone.
For more information, call 604.485.4868 or email email@example.com.