Some things have not really changed…
We still believe in putting aerobics (health and fitness) first (in an important place) in ones life.
We still want to encourage and support and help others do it, even though now we do not spend our every weekend putting on races and events.
We still are passionate learners… seeking the best , the newest, most innovative and value driven product for our customers.
We still value our customers as friends, and community, and seek to offer the best of ourselves daily.
We still wonder at the amazing quality of staff that work with us; some stay longer than others, but all contribute in immeasurable ways. We estimate in 34 years, we have employed around 500 full and part time people; we are still successful because we have had the best as part of our team.
Some things have changed a bit…
We live in the entire building now. As we grow, we can say we have never once not been thrilled to be part of the Quinpool Road Business District. We are clearly and permanently planted on Quinpool!
We are committed to fitting feet and footwear, and to developing our feet expertise more in ski boot fitting.
Our customer base is wider and more varied than in 1980… kids who run and ski, as young as 3… in fact we are now serving the children and even grandkids of our first customers, athletes and late bloomers, who are just starting, skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities, and the elderly and disabled, whose feet need our expertise.
We are local, owner operated, and passionately committed… and looking forward to the next 34 years.
Aerobics First opens in 300 square feet in the building we still live in, at 6166 Quinpool Road. In 1980, running shoes are a new trending item, and we are one of the first to sell them in Atlantic Canada. We are right there with Bill Bowerman and the Nike waffle trainer…
We survive one winter but wonder if we can survive a second one! No one runs in the winter in 1982, but they ski. We jump head long into the downhill ski business and triple our business in a season. Not a good idea! The Ski Shop at Aerobics First is born, and it is a sweet beginning.
We begin our famous Junior Ski Exchange, created by our ski floor manager Cathy Kerr Guest. Cathy grew up skiing and wanted to find a way to make skiing safe and affordable for other families. Thirty years later, we are still doing that.
We run and we ski, and we put on events- the ‘82, ’83 and ‘84 Aerobic Run Series, the AF Triathlon, the Terry Fox Run… we try selling bicycles, tennis racquets, surfboards, in addition to our Footwear and Ski business. We even manage to manufacture running suits (a desired vintage item in these parts today) on the second floor of our newly-purchased building. We are young, brave, and determined!
Dean Cheverie joins the team. He begins on the ski floor and his role grows in shaping our ski department and customer service.
Time to focus on being better retailers - we computerize, and invest more in reaching out to our customers. We create a buyers club, called “Friends of Aerobics First” and create a magazine, mailed seasonally, to inform and invite .
We hire one of our young employees, (Mark Gascoigne, now of Trampoline) to research, write and publish our “HandBook, Word of Mouth, Aerobics First’s Guide to Destination Skiing”. It is moderately successful, but not a best seller…
Our winter market is shifting, so we decide to expand… our trusted friend and sales rep Alexis Fortier suggested we find a “hole-in-the-wall” space in the down-town core and get into the snowboard business. We found that “hole-in-the-wall” space in the back of our second floor, (after all we are the landlord!) and A-1 Boardshop opens fall of ‘94. We have 10 years before we need to reinvent our business again.
Margaret wins the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Turnaround Category. The team is forming, and the commitment and hard work are paying off.
A-1 Boardshop closes, time to reassess, and reinvent…we develop a new logo, a new look, and a new focus.
We partner with Duly Noted to create and publish “Starting Line” magazine. We want to promote a fit and healthy lifestyle, and inspire others to participate in the myriad of opportunities to be active in our community.
Luke MacDonald, one of our first customers in the early days, joins our team and becomes a partner in the business with Dean, Margaret, and Judy Fraser. The team is growing, in size and also in talent. Jyl Davis runs our office and has since 1993. She stays close since she is married to Dean.
The Ubuntu Award is presented to our shop at The Running Event in Austin Texas, for our community outreach and service to others. We are honored and humbled. In the spirit of the award, we create, with our 10,000 prize, an endowment fund with The Community Foundation of Nova Scotia. We are working toward an annual gift called the Vital Persons Award, for volunteers in the Running and Skiing Community who give tirelessly of their time and energy to assist others in these fields.
We decide to grow and expand our horizons. We develop our new concept shop called Preamble Footwear, selling casual comfort footwear. We open in September of 2012 in the Trillium Neighborhood. Our team grows again, and we welcome Jenn Kearney and Ben Noseworthy as full-time employees. Jenn oversees Preamble and is a floor manager and buyer for the entire company. Ben manages our Ski floor.
We are nominated, and win, the Better Business Bureau Ethics Award for businesses 16 to 50 employees.
At 34, we are still not done. What a journey we have had, and will continue to have. What is not accounted for in this brief overview is the huge array of interesting, colourful, talented, charming and exasperating hires who have passed through our doors during all these years. We really do love this life and are deeply appreciative of the staff members who have contributed to our business. We are striving to continue to serve you and our community, competing with our knowledge, dedication, hard work, service, and of course, our charm!
The legendary Ski Tech Andy leaves after five illustrious years of flawless service. They say the true mark of a man is when everything before him is obsolete and everything that comes after bears his mark. Ski Tech Andy was such a man.
Aerobics First officially launches its innovative Fit-It-Forward program that benefits the homeless or near-homeless in our local community.