Retail in Prince Rupert lives on.
Prince Rupert has always enjoyed a strong and diverse sporting community. However, the unfortunate closure of Farwest Sports and Oceanside Sports left local customers searching for options in town. Serial retail entrepreneur Adam El Bissar took notice. He saw potential in Prince Rupert and a chance to lay roots, so he opened Drift Sport.
Starting with a select number of goods, Adam grew his business rapidly over the following year, with some assistance from Community Futures. “People were requesting more and I wanted to meet that demand. Community Futures helped accelerate the growth needed; they helped my business even though it was still young.”
Since opening in March 2018, Drift has expanded to three different spaces, each offering a different type of clothing: Sport, Kids, and Lifestyle. Drift aims to offer local consumers trusted brand names, such as Under Armour, Champion, Asics, Skechers, and The North Face, at competitive prices.
Despite the rapid growth, Adam is not done yet. After finding success with sports apparel, he is looking to expand into gear and equipment for hockey.
Drift Sport, Kids, and Lifestyle can all be found in the top floor of the Rupert Square Mall.
Retail continues to have its place in Prince Rupert. Heloise Tupas is a couple months into operating her new clothing store, Aria, located in the Rupert Square Shopping Centre. The store offers women’s clothing for different occasions and settings, and is the only store in Prince Rupert to specifically offer plus-size clothing. The store provides hands-on customer service, but withholds from pressuring customers to buy clothing if it doesn’t meet their needs.
Heloise worked in the Reitman’s store before it closed. When the Prince Rupert branch was shut down, she was determined to fill the gap that Reitman’s left behind. Heloise approached Community Futures for start-up financing and opened her doors a month later.
"Without Community Futures, we wouldn't be here," she says. While still a fledgling business, there are future plans with Aria, including the idea of one day implementing a rewards program. “We want to show appreciation for repeat customers."