VR/E-Sports Entertainment Concept ‘The Grid’ Plans Expansion [Interview/Photos]


Share post:

The Grid, an entertainment business that specializes in immersive experiences through Virtual Reality, E-Sports, interactive learning, all with the goal of improving both physical and mental health, was first launched in Whitby, Ontario but has plans to grow the offering beyond the southern Ontario town.

Geoff Eisfeld, founder of the concept, said The Grid was his creation and the idea just keeps evolving.

“It started out that it was supposed to be a fitness, nightclub kind of a place with video games and exercise equipment and that evolved over the years into more of a mainstream event venue with high tech video games and virtual reality,” he said. “It’s not like I set out to create what it is today. It keeps changing and growing.

“And now we’re at the stage where multiple locations and businesses all over the world want a piece of what I’ve created. But in a nutshell it’s a gaming, physically active entertainment venue. Lots of video games where we encourage physical movement through sports and basketball and even virtual reality.”

The Grid Whitby (Image: The Grid)

The first location opened in September 2017 in south Whitby, just east of Toronto. The Grid is located in an industrial plaza in the town and is in about 4,700 square feet. 

“We’re in the process of finalizing a deal to get keys for a new building that’s about 12,000 square feet February 1,” he said. “So we’re moving from an industrial plaza which was the business growing, and learning the ins and outs and kind of figuring where we fit in society. We know where we belong. So we’re moving into regular retail plazas that are in communities next to schools and Walmarts and things like that.

“The issue with a lot of entertainment businesses is they don’t have enough clientele or customers to sustain them and pay high rents in commercial plazas. So they go industrial. That’s away from the customers. So it’s hard for people and families to get to these places regularly enough for it to actually be beneficial to them as a whole. After school kids can ride their bikes over and come and play and learn and grow instead of a Saturday because it’s raining they drive half an hour out of the city to find a trampoline park or things like that that are in cheaper real estate.”

The Grid Whitby (Image: The Grid)

The second and new location will be open seven days a week.

Eisfeld has extensive event industry knowledge and connections throughout North America. All that can now be funneled into this business venture. 

“We’ve had interest in Colombia, Australia, UK. US like crazy. Florida, Miami, California. I’m very outspoken in the industry and gravitate towards anyone who is willing to listen and wants to be part of this. I don’t need to sit back and make all this money and raise all that capital,” he said.

“It’s more just the impact of kids and society. So that’s what we’re chasing. We want to be the biggest impact possible at a time when society and kids and families need it. They need an outlet that isn’t just video games. It isn’t just organized sports. It isn’t an after school learning program. They kind of have to put all three together and kids will want to be here every single day. They join us online. We’re actually a full accredited high school in the New Year with our new location. So we get all of our high school credits. Fully licensed. Better education system than the current public system and we use a lot of technology in really connecting with the kids.”

Justin Curtis and Robert Weinberg, of real estate brokerage Oberfeld Snowcap, are representing The Grid in the brand’s expansion.

The Grid Whitby (Image: The Grid)

After 15 years in the mainstream event industry, he was in a key leadership role at his company. But he just felt he wasn’t being financially compensated enough for what he was delivering. He left his job and went off on his own for a couple of years as an independent contractor. 

Working from home, he had lots of free time and he funneled his free time into exercise, playing with his family, creating a new home dynamic.

“I built a home fitness entertainment room in my house. In about 60 square feet. So you picture the average furnace room. It was black and neon and fog machines and mirrors and TVs. My kids, the three of us, would go in and play while my wife was at work,” said Eisfeld.

“As we started posting content, because we’re all about creating and sharing, the industry and anyone who would see what we were doing were asking when I’m open for business, when could they book time. They were really trying to book play time in my little room at home which was nothing. I wasn’t going to have anyone just come over and play.

The Grid Whitby (Image: The Grid)

“So the fact that everyone thought that my little room was a business kind of got the wheels turning and made us realize what if we actually made this a business and I actually supported my family with video games and fun and activities versus chasing weddings and event planners and things like that. I shifted focus.

“For five years I didn’t have any employees. Every party, every crumb on the floor had to be vacuumed. Every paint. Everything had to be fixed by me. Every child. Serving the pizza. Entertaining the kids. Just by myself. Unless I had large groups and I asked a friend or a family member or my son to come help. I didn’t have actual employees until February of this year. It’s been a fun five years of playing and learning and changing the business.

“I don’t sell products. I sell time and experience and therefore I can charge almost anything and I have very little overhead.”

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. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author



Subscribe to the Newsletter


* indicates required

Related articles

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.