It all started with a tiny store in Alberta, Canada. After half a century serving the Peace Country community, Ernie's Sports Experts is still going strong.
In our new 'Meet Our Retailers' series, we'll be introducing you to the folks behind the bricks-and-mortar stores that stock Laundromat apparel. We couldn't think of a better place to start than Ernie's – a valued Laundromat retailer for more than a decade.
We spoke to Dean, Darrell and Joan Radbourne from the Ernie's team about their family's legacy and the mission behind their business.
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of your business and how Ernie’s first got started?
In 1968, Ernie and Irma Radbourne opened Ernie’s Sports Centre in downtown Grande Prairie, Alberta. That first store was 1,100 square feet and had three employees. They focused on team sports, and outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, boating and camping.
Over the past 51 years, we’ve grown to service the Peace Country, with stores in Grande Prairie (AB) and Fort St John (BC). We now cover over 100,000 square feet and have over 100 employees. Ernie’s Sports Experts is still 100% locally owned.
What is the mission behind Ernie’s?
To provide our customers the best possible shopping experience with industry leading customer service, exceptional product selection, and an inviting and friendly atmosphere. To maintain a strong and positive approach to community involvement, and to provide our staff a work environment where they can advance within our company while being themselves without prejudice.
What do you enjoy most about running bricks-and-mortar stores?
We love serving the Peace Country. We’ve enjoyed being part of the community here for over 50 years, and we actively look for ways to grow that involvement.
Seeing customers who once came into Ernie’s as children now bringing their own kids to the shop is a rewarding experience. While the challenges facing bricks-and-mortar stores are always changing, the experience of taking care of a customer and seeing their appreciation feels the same as it did in 1968.
What motivates you to stock Laundromat? What about our brand do you love?
We are motivated to continue bringing Laundromat to our customers not only because of the popularity of the brand, but also because we love and support what Laundromat stands for. Not only are we proud to be able to tell our customers that Laundromat is Canadian, but also that the product they are purchasing is handcrafted, eco-friendly, and was created by artisans in Nepal.
Customers these days know when a brand is authentic and genuine. Our customers have always felt good about purchasing a piece of Laundromat apparel and feeling connected to the brand.
Do you have a favorite item in the Laundromat collection, or maybe a style that’s popular with your customers?
How do we pick a favourite!? We love it all – from the sweaters, to the skirts, to toques and mitts. But the sweaters are definitely the most popular line among our customers.
Winter is almost here! How are you celebrating the start of the season?
On October 16th we’re hosting our annual Ladies VIP Shopping Night. It’s our personal Winter Kick-Off Event where for one night only, the ladies of both Grande Prairie and Fort St. John can enjoy an evening of food, refreshments and fun as well as shop our entire store and receive 20% off!
This interview is the first in our new series of Retailer Profiles, where we'll be introducing you to the folks who stock Laundromat knitwear. Every business has a story, and we're so excited to shine a light on our loyal retailers.
If you're a Laundromat stockist and you'd like to be involved, send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org