Sporting Life Re-Opens Store in Collingwood After Disastrous 2020 Fire: Interview/Photos

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The Sporting Life retail store in Collingwood, Ontario has literally risen from the ashes after a devastating fire that gutted the building on January 27, 2020.

“It was a complete loss,” said Andy Hotson, General Manager of the Collingwood store. “It was thoroughly investigated and it was undetermined (the cause).

“Immediately the next day there was a meeting with all of our staff and I remember going to the building and cars pulling up beside me and honking and rolling down their windows and walking down the street. I’ve been there since 2002 so I know a lot of these people in the community, they know me – expressing their condolences and everybody being super supportive. 

Andy Hotson, Store Manager of Sporting Life in Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)

“For me with the community being super supportive, our head office, everybody within our company being super supportive, it was just kind of thinking where do we go from here. We will grieve obviously but we’re going to come back better than ever – thinking Sporting Life 2.0 at the time.”

The store originally opened in December 2002 and was the fourth retail location under the Sporting Life banner. 

After the fire, a temporary smaller store was established nearby in December 2020 until the new store was rebuilt from the ground up. Construction started for the new store on the original site in the spring of 2021. The new store opened November 20.

“It’s obviously a brand new building. Better layout. More modern. I think more customer and staff friendly in the sense of being new with new amenities and big open windows, kind of an open concept. But also we are in kind of the downtown of Collingwood and it’s considered an historic area. I think the architecture fits in with the downtown. It’s a great new building but really fits in. Lots of natural light and just a great space,” said Hotson.

Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)

The location is about 10,000 square feet and includes state-of-the-art equipment like the Wintersteiger, used to tune skis.

“The community reach was great. Not only our customers of course but even other local businesses. The Mayor even. Other retailers. Competitors of ours and all of our vendors. All of the people in the community no matter where myself or my staff were going to the grocery store, going out skiing, they would just stop and say ‘we love your store and can’t wait for the new store to open. That’s our store’,” said Hotson.

Sporting Life is partners with Alpine Canada, Alpine Ontario and the National Ski Academy, which the brand is celebrating 20 years of partnership since 2002. As partners, the brand provides athlete support from ski tuning and boot fitting to expert advice. It is also Canada’s Ski Team’s trusted source for product, service and advice.

“The Collingwood community didn’t have their Sporting Life to turn to when it burned down,” shared the brand. “But now we’re back and Collingwood has their community’s favourite spot to go to get expert advice and a unique assortment of the latest & greatest premium product. People come to visit to pass the time and talk ski & snow with Sporting Life experts, because there’s this mutual love and passion for the sport.”

Howard Israelsohn, Chief of Staff for the Sporting Life Group, said the brand has 11 stores across Canada. The general format is bigger than Collingwood with about 30,000 square feet.

“It’s really important for us to be in a place like Collingwood because Sporting Life is all about active outdoor and Collingwood represents that,” he said.

Additional Images from Sporting Life Collingwood

Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)
Sporting Life Collingwood (Image: Sporting Life)

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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