Red Sports has been nominated a finalist for the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year. Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express

Red Sports has been nominated a finalist for the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year. Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express

BUSINESS FEATURE: Reds Sports is listening to the Lacombe sports community

Two-year-old sports supplier nominated for small business of the year

Reds Sports is quickly becoming a premier sport destination in Central Alberta and that stems from the staffs passion for minor sports in Lacombe.

Tammy Derowin, owner of Reds Sports, said the idea behind Reds — which opened in Nov. 2016 — came from hearing members of the community on the sidelines.

“We saw the need after hearing parents talking on the sideline and the arena about how frustrating it is not be able to get the products they need in the city they lived,” Derowin said. “We decided to open it and then take feedback from our customers to meet their needs as they came up in order to bring in quality brands.”

Reds, according to Derowin, is constantly focused on building their brand around community feedback and Manager Matt Van Der Heide said this has led to the store being primarily a team sports supplier, but also provides something for all athletes.

“We have everything for hockey, soccer, baseball — everything in season,” he said. “We have our apparel as well which is a nice add-on because the apparel and footwear really appeals to everyone. You can come in looking for your specific sporting equipment, but then we the general accessory items you can use for everything.”

Saving a trip to the city is one of the many things Reds hopes to achieve based on feedback from the community.

“We have taken a tiny little store and we have packed it full of relevant product that meets the needs of what people are coming in and asking for.,” Van Der Heide said. “We aren’t forcing our product on people. We are listening and saying, ‘What do you need?’, and then we go and get it.”

Listening to the community has also led Reds to supporting the community they supply. Derowin and her staff has achieved this by allowing customers to pick their own non-profits and sporting associations to support, which allows Reds to wire their charity sponsorships in the right direction.

“The community is what keeps us open,” she said. “Without the community coming here, we wouldn’t have a business. It is also what keeps our kids active and developing healthy habits. This city is amazing with all their sports. Minor sports here blows my mind with all the volunteers that come out.”

Being a part of the business community and being recognized as one of the best small business in Lacombe by the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce is something Derowin was a happy thing to hear

“It is fantastic because we haven’t even been open two years.,” she said. “Obviously the need we saw must be at least starting to be met. We have been very busy, we have received great feedback and we have teams and families coming in.

“Customer service was something we wanted to focus on, so we work really hard to serve the customer when they walk in the door.”

Van Der Heide added, “Everyone who works here, lives in town and we know there is a lot of great companies here.

“We are in good company by saying we are near the top of that. To say that among these great business and community members that we are right up there with the best is a huge compliment.”

Reds, according to Van Der Heide, will continue to refine what they have built.

“Even though we are two years in, we are defining what categories we need to be stronger at for the community,” he said. “We need to know what categories we have maybe gone to deep with and cut back a little. It is about getting more and more focused on what we actually need in this community.”

One of the next big things for Reds is building on what they have in terms of outdoor supplies, but they will continue to listen to the community.

“If we can get better at managing the categories we have, then we can add in based on what people are asking for. We have a pretty good beat on it right now,” he said.

todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com