After 90 years as one of Edmonton’s longest running businesses, United Sport and Cycle opened a second location in the west end. Co-owner Jason Bots spoke with Avenue about the milestone and new store.
What does it mean to be closing in on 100 years?
We are pretty proud. Not many family businesses get to 90 years. I’m now the fourth generation of my family running this company. My mother and uncle took it over from their dad, my grandfather, who took it over from his uncle. Now it’s my sister and me, and it’s all I’ve ever done.
Does that family feeling come through to staff and customers?
Absolutely. We still have some team members here that have been here for nearly 40 years, like Duong (Tran), our original skate sharpener. His daughter has already worked here for 20 years. So there are neat lineages of families that aren’t just our family, and generational customers — grandparents bringing kids in saying, ‘I remember when I was here.’ Those stories are shared all the time on the floor.
Why was now the time to open a new location?
The people in the west end of the city, and people west of the city, have been asking for years and years. We finally decided it’s time, and I think one of the biggest reasons is people’s personal time is becoming such a valuable thing. So we thought it was important to get closer to give them access to our company.
Any early challenges?
One reason we never opened another store until now was because we felt it would be very difficult to replicate what we have here [at the Old Strathcona location]. We finally figured out that we’re not going to try to replicate what we have here. That was an emotional thing for us, to get over that barrier and say we’ve got to give our customers an opportunity to get our service closer to them. If the stick you need isn’t there, we’ll get it there the next day. We do daily shipments to the store, or even to the customer’s house.
Is there any grandfatherly advice you still follow?
He always said, ‘Take care of your customers and they will continue to take care of you.’ That’s a quote that has been passed down through the generations that my grandfather’s uncle, the founder, said to him. And that’s true today, even if it’s taking care in a slightly different way. The basic human principle is still very relevant. And it means putting the customer first. Doesn’t mean they’re always right, but in the end, they’re the boss.