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River City snaring global customers

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KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
River City Sports' new flagship store  in Winnipeg is beside IKEA.

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KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES River City Sports' new flagship store in Winnipeg is beside IKEA.

River City Sports might have lost some sales in East Kildonan since shutting down its former flagship store a couple of months ago but its retail general manager is confident they'll be made up from a much larger market -- the rest of the world.

The leading sports apparel retailer in Winnipeg has moved its sales group and a related company, Xtreme Sign and Graphics, into the 16,000-square-foot space on Henderson Highway where River City started out 23 years ago.

Zak Rubin said its four remaining stores in Winnipeg can more than handle the demand within the Perimeter Highway but its online division is really helping drive the business. Its stores in Regina and Saskatoon are also busy, as the two cities have an insatiable appetite for anything with a Saskatchewan Roughriders logo on it.

"The online side has really taken off lately. It's a big part of our business. We're getting orders for Jets and Bombers gear from Germany, Australia and Ireland. There are Bombers fans and Riders fans all over the world that want a taste of home," he said.

"We had one guy who called the store from Afghanistan. He didn't trust the Internet so he wanted to place his order over the phone."

Rubin said most of the traffic at the Henderson Highway store has been redirected to its Kildonan Place location. Traffic is brisk at its new flagship store near IKEA and he's optimistic its St. Vital outlet will reap the benefits of a renovation.

"We got rid of everything, including the bullpen system in the middle with cash and display cases, so we have more room on the sales floor for product and customers to walk around," he said.

The fact the Bombers and Riders are two of the strongest teams in the CFL this season has spurred interest in all kinds of apparel, he said.

"Everybody is jumping back on the Bombers' bandwagon," he said. "We sell a lot of Riders stuff in Manitoba, especially with the Banjo Bowl coming up in two weeks."

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 30, 2014 B7

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