Escape Sports is an outdoor recreation store located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Not only does Escape Sports offer amazing, high quality gear, but they also offer lessons and rentals in Stand Up Paddleboarding Yoga, snowskating, and tons of others cool activities. Additionally they are also Lems Shoes’ only retailer in Canada! We recently interviewed, founders Marcus and Jonny, to learn more about themselves and their awesome store!
What inspired you (Marcus) and Jonny to open an outdoor store? And why Saskatoon, Canada?
The store really never planned out like a business school would expect you to. The inspiration for it lies in a climbing trip to Joshua Tree National Park where we had been talking about bringing in some specialty equipment like slacklines, unicycles and longboards for ourselves… and maybe a bit for friends too if they wanted anything. Then we’d find out about some other neat product that you couldn’t find in Saskatoon… then an innovative shoe or clothing company. Things just kinda snowballed and now 10 years later we are into all sorts of stuff. SUP (standup Paddleboarding), disc golf, roller derby, all sorts of boards and scooters…fun stuff really. Why Saskatoon? We’re born and bred here in town…and it just so happens the city is booming like nowhere else right now.
What were you both doing prior to going into the retail business?
Marcus was working alongside our parents at the sign/printing shop when we first opened the store. After we were up for about 3 years he quit there and was fulltime with Escape. I, on the other hand was a university student and treeplanter during the summer. Wound up dropping out mid-term to take the store seriously, and now here we are!
From your social media we can see that you’re not just another typical outdoor store. What would you say differentiates you from other stores?
Everything we sell…we also do. That means every board, SUP, scooter, X- country ski, unicycle, kiteboard… I can ride them all! The store is an extension of our lifestyle. And then there is the clothing/footwear side of the shop. Our focus has always been to find smaller innovative brands that nobody carries in town or often times even in Canada. It provides a special challenge of course, to be building a brand awareness from scratch (unlike the traditional method of jumping on popular existing brands) but it’s a lot of fun working with startup companies, and it has helped to define our shop as the place to go if you want to find new products. As is the case of Lems Shoes! We are also open to listening to what customers are looking for. Numerous times we have found out about products that have been hugely successful for us because of a customer’s request to bring something in. Most shops operate on a rigid buying schedule, where as we are open to picking up new products at anytime, especially if it means being among the first in the world to carry it!
By owning an outdoor retail store, you must be enthusiastic about certain outdoor hobbies. Care to share which ones?
Some of the favorites would be kiteboarding, surfing, SUPing, biking, ultimate…disc golf…long boarding. This list could get lengthy! I’d say the most memorable though would be kitesurfing in waves… it’s an unbelievable experience.
You obviously carry Lems Shoes, and are our ONLY Canadian retailer, how did you discover our products?
What on honor to be the only Canadian retailer! Kinda crazy though, since they are such fabulous shoes. I would have found it while doing some snooping around on some barefoot running websites. Stumbled upon the Stem Footwear site and got in touch with Andrew. He told me at that time that they didn’t actually have any shoes made that he could sell us, they were about 6-7 months away from landing in America! So we put in an order and said that we would love to have them as soon as we could. I’ve got a couple pair of the Stem version of your shoes, which I still wear. They are going strong!
What does the future hold for Escape Sports? Anything new on the horizon?
Funny you should ask. I can’t really say what new products we might be bringing in, cause I haven’t even discovered them yet! But an exciting venture that we are involved in is a cafe/restaurant that we will be starting right next to our shop. You’ll be able to get a cup of coffee, have lunch or hit the wine bar upstairs and then move smoothly from there into our store for a little shopping, chatting, dreaming… whatever it is that you’re feeling!
A huge thank you to Jonny and Marcus for sharing their experience with us and supporting Lems Shoes!