“My biggest concern is educating retailers to stop selling at a discount, avoid closeouts, and try to bring everything back to the regular price.” —Phil Chouinard, owner Axis Boutique, Saint-Sauveur, Que.
Years in business: 13
Days on hill: 65
Where are you seeing growth?
This year, the low-price jackets. And skis and ski boots as well.
Have you expanded your product offering within the year?
Both the cheap jackets and the high-end jackets. The rail rider is getting the cheap jacket, because they’re getting them dirty or ripping them, so they’re replacing them every year. And the high-end because, although people may have less money, they look at it as a long-term investment and go for a clean colour and take care of it.
How do you make a decision to pick up a new brand?
If kids are asking for it, we’ll look at it. But brands with good price range and great mentality, like INI Cooperative. We put a little bit of money into INI and it’s going really well, with their organic gear or recycled materials, good price range and good insulation category—that’s all good for the East Coast market.
What works best for you to move product?
Kickbacks for customers. Customers are all looking for deals, and we’ve tried to stop doing deals, so a little kickback helps; so, buy a full-price jacket and get a gift card for accessories.
What is your biggest challenge in running a retail store?
Keeping our customers here; push hard on respect, services and knowledge from our staff to bring them back if they don’t buy that day. Trying to educate our customers for the future.
What can vendors do better to support your business?
Better terms. Sometimes product ships too early, and winter starts really late, so better terms would definitely help.
What are your biggest concerns for the industry as a whole?
My biggest concern is educating retailers to stop selling at a discount, avoid closeouts and try to bring everything back to the regular price. Slowly, business is getting cleaner and cleaner. But some years, when there’s hardgoods left over from the year before being sold at a discount—that’s not good for anyone. People are still coming in looking for deals on closeout stuff.