From the Corporate World to Retail: The Story of Culture Athletics, which has Relocated its Storefront in Toronto’s Leslieville [Interview]

Date:

Share post:

For years, Nigel Fick was a fixture in the corporate world.

But about five years ago Fick decided to follow his passion, starting a new business in Toronto – Culture Athletics, an apparel and fitness boutique that focuses on specialty footwear, apparel and accessories for running and yoga.

Nigel Fick

The brand opened a new location recently in the heart of Toronto’s East End in the Leslieville neighbourhood along Queen Street and Carlaw Avenue.

Fick operates the store with his wife Sarah Deas.

“Culture really started as a passion project of mine back in 2017 where I was in the corporate world before this. I was in advertising and made my way over to marketing. I was doing digital marketing at American Express for quite a few years and was actively pursuing a midlife crisis,” quipped Fick.

Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)

The job was great with one of the top companies in the world. But something was missing.

“Every day I would just get a little bit more depressed and every Sunday I would just have this kind of wave of existential crisis. What am I doing? I did some self searching,” said Fick. “I set a goal for myself at a young age where by the time I’m 30 I’m either going to make X amount of money and I’m going to sell out and it’s going to be worth it or I’m going to actively look into following a life of passion and finding fulfillment in what I do. 

“I was 28 at the time. So I started doing a lot of math to see whether I could hit the dollar value by the time I was 30. If everything lined up . . . technically I could do it but I kind of had a realization that if I’m putting all this work into trying to justify something I don’t want to do then maybe I should actually look into the same amount of work to see if there is something that I would want to do that would be a financially responsible decision to make.”

He said he had his ‘aha’ moment during a presentation on himself. In the presentation, it asked the question: what did you want to do as a kid when you grew up? 

Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)

“I wanted to move to Hawaii and open a surf shop. That was always the dream,” said Fick.

The presentation also asked what would you do if you won the lottery?

“That’s easy. I’d quit AmEx, I’d move to Hawaii and I’d open a surf shop.” That got him thinking and he started taking business courses while working at the corporate giant.

The first Culture Athletics store was opened in July 2018 at Queen Street and Jones Avenue about a kilometre east of its current location. 

Former location at 1175 Queen St East (Image: Culture Athletics)

The retailer’s new store is just under 1,400 square feet. While the retailer has only the one location at this time, there could be expansion plans in the future as well as a stronger online presence.

Fick, who is a very avid runner, said Culture Athletics was founded on the principle that athletic culture is a uniting force between individuals. 

“We are what I like to call non-traditional running, yoga specialty. We focus on three pillars. Performance run, studio and that includes yoga, and active living. We’ve got gym apparel in there, athleisure,” said Fick. “Our pillar is those three pillars and community. We do a ton of community engagement.

Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)

“We’ve really tried to not only service the Toronto running and fitness community but to actively participate in it and enrich it, help build it and help make it into something a little bit more meaningful for people. We offer a ton of weekly free programming and paid programming plus we do a bunch of partnerships with local run clubs and other athletic facilities in the city.

“Our new flagship is in a heritage building. It was the Leslieville Hotel built in the late 1800s. We did a tour talking about the historical significance of the building and of the neighbourhood as a whole. And then we ran along Queen Street . . . and stopped at about six or seven stops along the way, really introducing people to the neighbourhood that they’re in and all the stuff you kind of pass by on a daily basis and really don’t understand or appreciate. A lot of it has been there for 150 years.”

Fick said the retailer has created a lot of momentum, setting the stage for expansion.

“But I think for us our focus for growth is more going to be online sales, anchoring our brand in Toronto east and staying true to our DNA, our meaningful community events, but grow scale through online business nationally.”

Additional Photos from Culture Athletics on Queen Street E

Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)
Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)
Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)
Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)
Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)
Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)
Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)
Culture Athletics at 972 Queen St E (Image: Dustin Fuhs / Retail Insider)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From Retail Insider

Food Preferences in Canada Changing as Millennial and Gen Z Demographics Shift [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois discusses Canada's aging population and how younger consumers are shifting the grocery food landscape.

Henry Singer Unveils Downtown Edmonton Flagship Store at the ICE District, Featuring a Bar, Barber and Shoe Shine [Photos/Interview]

Jordan Singer discusses how the upscale menswear retailer recently relocated its Edmonton flagship store from Manulife Place into a 10,000 square foot space at the base of Western Canada's tallest building.

Canadian Retail Sales Dip: Year-End Drop in Discretionary Spending [J.C. Williams Group Analysis]

2023 Canadian retail sales ended in a lacklustre way, with controlled consumer spending amid a tumultuous year.

Landlord QuadReal Launches Pickleball Courts in Commercial Properties to Create Consumer Experience [Interview/Photos]

The initiative helps revitalize and re-imagine spaces using sustainable development practices, while incorporating the latest technology to enhance the visitor experience, blending physical and digital elements.

Canadian Consumers Willing to Switch Grocery Stores while Seeking Bargains: Study [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that a new survey offers a rigorous look into the preferences and behaviours shaping the future of grocery shopping in Canada.

Iconic Flo’s Diner in Toronto’s Yorkville Forced to Close After 33 Years Amid Landlord Dispute 

Retail Insider interviewed Flo’s co-owner who discusses the “heart wrenching” situation where he is being forced to close his business that began on Bellair Street in 1991.

Anatomy of a Leader: Teresa Spinelli, Owner of Alberta-Based Italian Centre Shop Ltd.

Spinelli discusses her leadership of the popular retailer which has expanded over the years, describing how she struggled to run the company at first and grew to love it.

Upscale Canadian Fashion Brand SMYTHE Expands with New Standalone Calgary Store [Interview/Photos]

It's the second store location for the Toronto-based brand, which is seeing success with its exclusive womenswear collections.

Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens Hits Sales Milestone with Exciting Retail Growth and Future Plans [Interview]

The shopping centre is adding new retailers as sales per square foot hit an all-time high, with plans to re-tenant Nordstorm as foot traffic grows following Eataly's opening in the mall a few months ago.

ECS Coffee Opens Canada’s Largest Coffee and Espresso Equipment Gear Showroom and Retail Space in Toronto [Interview]

The new Etobicoke location is unique to Canada if not North America, according to its founder, with coffee roasting, equipment showroom, over 500 varieties of coffee, Youtube studio and various in-store experiences. He has plans to expand the concept nationally.

New Loblaws City Market Opens in Vancouver’s ‘The Post’ Building, Adding Grocery Competition to the Downtown Core [Podcast]

Craig and Lee discuss the opening of a new Loblaws City Market in downtown Vancouver's renovated Post building, and they explore its potential impact on local grocery shopping.

Loblaw Announces $2 Billion Investment in Canada for 2024 with Dozens of New Stores and 7,500 New Jobs [Expert Comment]

The retail behemoth will be growing substantially this year, following backlash over profits as inflation continues to impact Canadians.

Dubai-Based Asian Street Food Concept ‘Wok Boyz’ Expands into Canada with Plans for Multiple Locations [Interview]

The company's founder says the popular concept, with personalized meals, has an opportunity to grow substantially with its high-quality ingredients and theatrical flare, complete with fiery customer-facing woks.

Calgary Surge Basketball Team Launches Innovative Pop-Up at CF Chinook Centre to Boost Community Engagement [Interview]

The retail activation, which opened this month, is resulting in heavier foot traffic in a quieter part of the mall.

Upscale Pusateri’s Fine Foods to Close Yorkville Grocery Store in Toronto After 20 Years

The 5,500 square foot store opened to much fanfare in 2003, with valet parking, private chefs and pricey goods. 

Loblaw and Walmart Could be Forced to Adhere to Grocery Code of Conduct with Legislation [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that it's rare for all of Canada's political parties to agree, signalling a shift that could force grocers to comply amid record inflation.

Factory Direct to Shut All 14 Stores Amid Bankruptcy, Liquidation to Begin Saturday

The company, founded in 1995, is one of Canada’s largest privately owned discount retailers which struggled with declining sales and increasing costs following the pandemic.

What to Expect for the Canadian Retail and Hospitality Sectors in 2024 [Video Interview]

Michael Kehoe provides an expansive overview of what's expected for Canada's retail industry in 2024, and how the commercial real estate industry is becoming more dynamic than ever.

Anatomy of a Leader: David Lui, CEO of Kit and Ace and Co-Founder of Unity Brands

Lui has an extensive background in retail with over 30 years of experience and is known for his award-winning brand transformations, e-commerce and digital knowledge along with his passion for scaling businesses.

Robotic Retail Gaining Traction in Canada, But Some Consumers are Being Left Behind [Op-Ed]

Automated retailers without in-store staff are opening across Canada, such as Aisle 24, RC Coffee and PizzaForno -- but consumers without smart phones, credit cards, or with vision issues may not be able to access these retailers says a researcher.

RECENT RETAIL INSIDER VIDEOS

Advertisment

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Subscribe

* indicates required

RECENT articles

Food Preferences in Canada Changing as Millennial and Gen Z Demographics Shift [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois discusses Canada's aging population and how younger consumers are shifting the grocery food landscape.

Henry Singer Unveils Downtown Edmonton Flagship Store at the ICE District, Featuring a Bar, Barber and Shoe Shine [Photos/Interview]

Jordan Singer discusses how the upscale menswear retailer recently relocated its Edmonton flagship store from Manulife Place into a 10,000 square foot space at the base of Western Canada's tallest building.

Canadian Retail Sales Dip: Year-End Drop in Discretionary Spending [J.C. Williams Group Analysis]

2023 Canadian retail sales ended in a lacklustre way, with controlled consumer spending amid a tumultuous year.

Landlord QuadReal Launches Pickleball Courts in Commercial Properties to Create Consumer Experience [Interview/Photos]

The initiative helps revitalize and re-imagine spaces using sustainable development practices, while incorporating the latest technology to enhance the visitor experience, blending physical and digital elements.

Canadian Consumers Willing to Switch Grocery Stores while Seeking Bargains: Study [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that a new survey offers a rigorous look into the preferences and behaviours shaping the future of grocery shopping in Canada.

Iconic Flo’s Diner in Toronto’s Yorkville Forced to Close After 33 Years Amid Landlord Dispute 

Retail Insider interviewed Flo’s co-owner who discusses the “heart wrenching” situation where he is being forced to close his business that began on Bellair Street in 1991.

Anatomy of a Leader: Teresa Spinelli, Owner of Alberta-Based Italian Centre Shop Ltd.

Spinelli discusses her leadership of the popular retailer which has expanded over the years, describing how she struggled to run the company at first and grew to love it.

Upscale Canadian Fashion Brand SMYTHE Expands with New Standalone Calgary Store [Interview/Photos]

It's the second store location for the Toronto-based brand, which is seeing success with its exclusive womenswear collections.

Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens Hits Sales Milestone with Exciting Retail Growth and Future Plans [Interview]

The shopping centre is adding new retailers as sales per square foot hit an all-time high, with plans to re-tenant Nordstorm as foot traffic grows following Eataly's opening in the mall a few months ago.

ECS Coffee Opens Canada’s Largest Coffee and Espresso Equipment Gear Showroom and Retail Space in Toronto [Interview]

The new Etobicoke location is unique to Canada if not North America, according to its founder, with coffee roasting, equipment showroom, over 500 varieties of coffee, Youtube studio and various in-store experiences. He has plans to expand the concept nationally.

New Loblaws City Market Opens in Vancouver’s ‘The Post’ Building, Adding Grocery Competition to the Downtown Core [Podcast]

Craig and Lee discuss the opening of a new Loblaws City Market in downtown Vancouver's renovated Post building, and they explore its potential impact on local grocery shopping.

Loblaw Announces $2 Billion Investment in Canada for 2024 with Dozens of New Stores and 7,500 New Jobs [Expert Comment]

The retail behemoth will be growing substantially this year, following backlash over profits as inflation continues to impact Canadians.

Dubai-Based Asian Street Food Concept ‘Wok Boyz’ Expands into Canada with Plans for Multiple Locations [Interview]

The company's founder says the popular concept, with personalized meals, has an opportunity to grow substantially with its high-quality ingredients and theatrical flare, complete with fiery customer-facing woks.

Calgary Surge Basketball Team Launches Innovative Pop-Up at CF Chinook Centre to Boost Community Engagement [Interview]

The retail activation, which opened this month, is resulting in heavier foot traffic in a quieter part of the mall.

Upscale Pusateri’s Fine Foods to Close Yorkville Grocery Store in Toronto After 20 Years

The 5,500 square foot store opened to much fanfare in 2003, with valet parking, private chefs and pricey goods. 

Loblaw and Walmart Could be Forced to Adhere to Grocery Code of Conduct with Legislation [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that it's rare for all of Canada's political parties to agree, signalling a shift that could force grocers to comply amid record inflation.

Factory Direct to Shut All 14 Stores Amid Bankruptcy, Liquidation to Begin Saturday

The company, founded in 1995, is one of Canada’s largest privately owned discount retailers which struggled with declining sales and increasing costs following the pandemic.

What to Expect for the Canadian Retail and Hospitality Sectors in 2024 [Video Interview]

Michael Kehoe provides an expansive overview of what's expected for Canada's retail industry in 2024, and how the commercial real estate industry is becoming more dynamic than ever.

Anatomy of a Leader: David Lui, CEO of Kit and Ace and Co-Founder of Unity Brands

Lui has an extensive background in retail with over 30 years of experience and is known for his award-winning brand transformations, e-commerce and digital knowledge along with his passion for scaling businesses.

Robotic Retail Gaining Traction in Canada, But Some Consumers are Being Left Behind [Op-Ed]

Automated retailers without in-store staff are opening across Canada, such as Aisle 24, RC Coffee and PizzaForno -- but consumers without smart phones, credit cards, or with vision issues may not be able to access these retailers says a researcher.