Gee-Gee’s business hits the ground runningPhoto Credit: Marta Kierkus
It’s surprisingly difficult to find track and field spikes here in Canada.
It’s been a regular annoyance for Kevin Nault, who has been training with the Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club for more than a decade. There are no specialty stores in the region with a large enough selection for local customers, he says.
That means there’s a gap in Canada’s sporting retail market—and Nault’s looking to fill it.
“It’s really hard to get them in Canada. Usually you have to go through the States,” he says. “There was a local guy who used to sell them—he was actually my old coach. He was able to give me the spikes for a good price, but he stopped doing it. He got busy with life, so I decided to take over what he did.”
The second-year Gee-Gees pentathlon and decathlon athlete launched his own startup business called One Track Mind in September 2013.
It’s not necessarily the biggest market out there, though. Track and field isn’t exactly the coolest or most admired sport in the country, says Nault. Most kids get into hockey or basketball—track products, he says, are harder to sell.
“People weren’t bringing in the products. Mizuno pulled out, Adidas pulled out of Canada, and just stopped selling stuff. No one really wants to bring spikes in because it’s not profitable.”
To that end it’s been hard for One Track Mind to wind up on the plus side of the balance sheet over the last year and a half. But Nault says he’s more concerned with helping people get a proper start in track and field.
“I started with the lowest quality spikes, and now I can buy a little better. I’m not making a huge profit, but if it’s done right then it can be a profitable business and work in the future,” he says.
He began by purchasing his first order of equipment, and last January started to sell his inventory at pop-up shops at track meets. Now, his catalogue is available online at otmcanada.ca and pop up shops at most track meets around Ottawa.
“I don’t have the greatest stuff, but I still have the stuff to help out the community. People are so surprised, they are excited that they’re actually getting their stuff here.”
He’s also begun to make connections with other people around the country who have similar goals. “My plan is to really just start building it,” he says.
Eventually, he says he’ll want to find an investor and build a delivery and distribution system to take his business nationwide, starting with Ontario. While his business has had a slow start, the young entrepreneur is in it for the long run.