Owner/Mgr.: Kalvin Sexsmith
Number of storefronts: 1
Location: #202 833 102 Ave, Dawson Creek B.C.
Square footage: 1,500
Kalvin Sexsmith had a vision for how a bike shop should be run since he was 13 years old. It was then that the Dawson Creek, B.C. resident began working at the neighborhood’s local BMX retailer. From there, he went on to work at a new shop that sprung up in town two years later, but finally came to the conclusion that “no body was doing it right.” That left the 17-year-old with one clear option.
“I graduated from high school a semester early, got a full time job, and busted my ass until I had enough to open,” says Sexsmith. “I opened the doors to Rider's Union April 2011 when I was 17 years old. I couldn't even get a store phone in my name [laughs].”
It was that conviction and determination that landed Sexsmith in the role of local shop owner, and it has been his obvious passion for the sport that has driven the success and growth of Rider’s Union over the past 11 years. Born and raised in Dawson Creek, Sexsmith says he has been helping build the local BMX scene long before he ever ran his own shop, so opening Rider’s Union was the logical next step. The retail space supports the BMX community today through rider events and competitions, and the shop’s laid-back approach to connecting with youth in the region.
Sexsmith took some time out from the daily grind to talk with TransWorld Business about how he defines retail in the region, what’s trending in the BMX market right now, and which brands are performing the best at Rider’s Union. But first take a tour of Rider’s Union here:
How would you describe your shop? What makes it unique? What do you think you're best known for?
I would describe it as a small town shop with a lot of heart and dedication to build the scene. We are all about community and seeing kids shred. I think in today’s world the thing that makes it unique is being rider owned and operated. We are definitely best known for our BMX scene and the Rider's Union backyard ramp.
How many employees do you generally have at one time?
Usually own and operate myself but I have one employee who runs the shop in winter and helps out in summer.
How do you recruit, train, and retain good employees?
Usually just by getting to know the kids who come in a lot. As for training, they just need to know how to fix a bike and wax a snowboard. Seems like every kid’s dream is to work in a lifestyle shop, so it’s easy to keep them around
What have been some key milestones in the shop's history since you opened?
This 30 shops in 30 days segment will be one for sure— stoked! Also, within the first two years of being opened we doubled in size and moved to the new location you see today.
Do you have an online storefront (e-commerce)?
No, I do not.
Describe your typical customer. If you don't have one specific type of customer, please define or break down your customer base.
I seem to have two different types of customers, the first being bmx riders. People who are generally nice and love to shred bicycles. The second being Rig workers who have way too much that they don't even know what to do with it, so they come buy heaps of clothing.
Discuss your current product mix. How is it influenced by your region?
Basically my entire store revolves around BMX lifestyle and everything that goes with it, even though it snows for 7 months of the year [Laughs].
What percentage of your inventory is dedicated to…
Men's Apparel 30%
What brands have you carried the longest?
Unit Clothing, Skullcandy, Ryder Distribution, 1664 BMX Distribution
What are currently your three most profitable product categories?
1. BMX bikes
2. Men’s clothing and accessories
What has been your best selling brand over the past 6 months?
Young And Reckless women’s clothing
What's your overall impression of the local market over the past year?
That it is continuously growing with the oilpatch we are surrounded by.
What are some things that brands are doing to help your business?
Hooking up free stickers for the kids and sponsoring any jams or comps that I throw.
Are there any brands or programs that really stand out?
Killemall BMX distribution is hands down the best place I’ve ever dealt with.
What brand(s) has/have stood out as the best overall "partner" since you've been in business.
How have you altered the way you buy over the past few seasons?
Increasing every year.
Are you altering the way you buy for next year?
Increasing and getting more accessories.
Are there any profound trends that you're noticing right now in your region? Overall?
In the BMX world, freecoasters are the biggest trend.
What are the standout events that you host or programs that you run for consumers?
I usually throw 5-6 BMX jams a year, all in surrounding communities and one at my house every year "GHETTO JAM" on my backyard ramp. Ghetto Jam is hands down the best one. This year we had a live local metal band "Solaris" play on the ramp while we all shredded. Shit was off the hook.
Do you expect your business to grow over the next year?
Yes I do
Are you currently considering expanding or opening a second location?
Yes, I am considering a second location.
Last specific moment that really made you love your job?
It was 2 days before Ghetto Jam. I had just finished welding this crazy rail the night before and had other people up working on the ramp. After a night of working, the stage for the band, deck on the ten foot, and painting were no where near done. The next day I had to have the shop open and people from everywhere started showing up. Everyone helped finish the ramp while I was at work for the day and when I got home it was finished, painted and 100% ready. No one had even dropped into it yet, they were all waiting for me to get there so I could have the first run. It was insane all my bros had enough respect for me and Rider's Union to not take first run. Meant a lot to me.