Friday, May 11, 2012

Retailer SpotLight: SAIL

For retailer spotlight #2 we are going to focus on a chain that has made the move into Ontario from what was once a Quebec only based business. Sail stores are rapidly spreading into the province with locations in Ottawa, Oshawa and Vaughn.. sound familiar, it should, the Vaughn location puts this relative newcomer in direct competition with the heavy weight Bass Pro Shop. A 4th location in Burlington is on the way in spring 2012.

I have made a few visits to the Oshawa location since its opening in December of 2011, and think I can be fairly objective here.


Starting off with the Pros, the Oshawa store is a thing of beauty, it is well lit, looks cool,  and it is fairly easy to shop. I cant speak for all locations, but the fishing/hunting department is on the second floor of the Oshawa store.. pefect for us snobby anglers who dont really want to rub elbows with campers, and hikers. We want our own section, and we got it.. also glad to see that that the fly fishing section is seperate, would not want a fly fisherman to have to look at Bass gear.. (joke)

The store carries a large assortment of all major brands, and is priced right. Most products can be purchased at the same or better prices then available at other retailers. There are no head scratchers here. no product made me wonder "what are they thinking"

For a new store I found the staff to be friendly and fairly knowledgeable. Im all for a cute counter girl, but if she cant help, why is she there. This is not the case in the fishing department, the staff helped me find the items I was looking for and actually knew what they were.. and I appreciate that.


Not to much to complain about here, after three visits Im pretty confident there will be a 4th & 5th visit. That being said this is a new store, and I think they need time to work out the kinks when it comes to product assortment and layout. Although I was able to navigate and find what I wanted, I did not like having to look for ice gear in three separate sections.

As for the product assortment, I think two things could improve the shopping experience. First off the HQ team needs to remember that Ontario is a different beast then Quebec, just because they dont move a lot of ice gear in some of the Quebec stores does not mean the same will be true in Oshawa or Vaughn.. Simcoe, Scugug and the BOQ are all huge bodies of water within an hours drive, you will get ice fisherman in your stores, and you best have what they are looking for or we will keep traveling down the road.

My second concern when it comes to product selection is that they focused heavily on the major brands and are well stocked in them, but the smaller growing brands are not really on display. For me what sets stores apart is product selection, I will drive 2 hours to one store if they have one product I cant get anywhere else ( i.e Paddletales), but if I can get what you have anywhere.. what then sets you apart? 

So thats that, I would recommend you take a trip to a SAIL store near you, they are well worth the trip. If you are looking to gear up for the upcoming bass season they will have the brands you know, and in case you feel like camping, hiking or canoeing, they have all that gear too. Between Sail & Gagnons the Durham region is really set up well for anglers, there is no longer a need to make that extra 45 minute drive to the Bass Pro Shop (and if you do, their is a SAIL store close by) 

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