By Mario Toneguzzi
The Vancouver-based Comor Sports has as its motto Go Play Outside.
And since 1974 the retailer has been helping a growing number of people do just that as the company continues to grow its footprint in the market.
Carlos Strachan, part owner and general manager, says the company specializes in ski, snowboard and bike.
“We’ve been a ski and snowboard kind of an institution in Vancouver for 41 years. We’re the longest surviving ski and snowboard retailer in Vancouver,” he says.
The company opened its new flagship store last month in Kitsilano, at the corner of Burrard Street and 4th Avenue, in 6,400 square feet of space.
The new store was designed by Cutler. The contractor was Krown out of Ontario, the subcontractor was Mekanix of Vancouver and millwork was done by Vancouver-based Peregrine, which is the largest retail fabricator in Western Canada and works with some of the country's leading retailers.
Comor also has stores in Whistler and North Vancouver. The Whistler store has been open since 2002.
The first store was opened in Burnaby and was in operation for 41 years. That building is just being redeveloped so that location was closed and the retailer moved across to North Vancouver in September 2017.
“That was a Vancouver institution as far as the ski and snowboard community goes,” says Strachan.
Steve Curell has been the majority owner of Comor for 42 years.
Comor has become a destination for outdoor enthusiasts to come check out all the latest and greatest gear.
On its website, the retailer says: “Our team lives the lifestyle that we sell, so whenever you are looking for new gear you can be confident the advice you receive will make sure you have the best day in the mountains or in the city. Comor is very active in the communities we cater to. We support local mountain bike trail associations (WORCA and NSMBA), Bike to Work Week, Whistler Gran Fondo, Vancouver Freestyle Ski Club, Mount Seymour Progression Jam as well as many others.”
“We don’t have aspirations to be national. We enjoy doing retail and despite our big footprint we are a fairly small operation. We don’t have aspirations of growing it into a conglomerate by any means. We may add one more store,” says Strachan.
“But we also own Pacific Boarder which is a snowboard and surf shop.”
It’s located right next door to the flagship Comor store and has been a fixture there since the late 1970s. The 6,000-square- foot store boasts the largest snowboard wall in Vancouver, and was one of the first Burton dealers in Canada. In addition to a vast selection of snowboard, surf, and skateboard gear, Pacific Boarder stores carry an extensive selection of stand-up paddle boards, casual wear, footwear, and accessories.
Strachan says what separates the company from the bigger sporting goods stores is its hands-on approach.
“I’ve worked for the company for 15 years and have pretty well done every job in our company. The difference with us is that I’m downstairs on the floor selling stuff, interacting with the staff and being the face of the company on the floor as well as doing the back end stuff whereas in bigger companies . . . you don’t see that kind of contact with the customer from the back office people,” he says, adding the majority of the managers have been with the company for at least 10 years.
“So we have some great staff retention and that along with the local appeal and heritage sets us apart from other retailers.”
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.