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The value of neighbourhood specialty stores

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Lifesport owner Claude Brunel. For Comstock Community Correspondent column.

PHOTO BY EVAN COMSTOCK Enlarge Image

Lifesport owner Claude Brunel. For Comstock Community Correspondent column. Photo Store

The heart of bike riding season seemed like an ideal time to speak with Claude Brunel, owner of Lifesport at 1117 Henderson Hwy.

Claude has been working in the bicycle industry for 30 years and all three decades in Manitoba.
"I spent a year and a half in Brandon, but that didn’t work out so I came back to Winnipeg," he said.

"I like this neck of the woods, the folks of East Kildonan tend to want to support local stores.  A lot of people will mention that they feel the importance of shopping at small independent dealers but I think a lot more just do because they know it’s a good idea to shop locally."

The natural cycle of economic existence is evident in how Claude feels about his customer’s needs and how their support strengthens his store.

"I really like being in this neighbourhood because it’s a great community, and shoppers know by supporting me — in return it’s helpful for their community too."

Owner/operator at this location since 1996, Claude knows his clientele. A customer meandered in while we were discussing his bicycle business and I was able to witness the beauty of specialty shops first-hand.

Claude bellowed a "Good day, sir"— and in seconds the customer had the accessory he was looking for.

While the pair conversed using technical cycling jargon, I browsed the shop, noticing that the range of bikes were of a high quality but mostly of a practical design.

"I have a selection of bikes that I think are suitable for the area and my market. I think most people like individual shops because they offer something a little different instead of the cookie cutter stuff"

"I have a small shop so I focus on certain styles like hybrids, road bikes and mountain bikes. I have some kids’ bikes but no BMX, that’s a whole other world."

Once fall arrives, (sorry,it’s inevitable) don’t worry. The end of summer only means cross country ski season is fast approaching, and Lifesport has you covered.

"I sell cross country skis and other gear for wintertime. As bike season ends we will hope for an early and regular snow fall."

Spoken like a true Manitoban.  

Evan Comstock is a community correspondent for East Kildonan.

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