Stores across Yellowknife have seen a huge rise in sales of gardening supplies, bikes, canoes, and other outdoor products as residents spend the summer at home.
Sandra Stirling, co-owner of Overlander Sports, said bikes were selling out in no time. “We just sold bikes like there was no tomorrow. Never seen anything like it before,” she told Cabin Radio.
“Even before we reopened, people were buying bikes. It was really difficult to even look after folks because you need to size people with bikes to be able to sell them properly.”
Overlander usually reorders bikes two to three times each summer, but Stirling says it’s been hard to even find companies who still have bikes in stock.
“We were just basically grasping at straws, whatever we could find that they had left in their warehouses,” she said.
“We definitely weren’t able to get all the bikes we wanted to. We really needed more youth bikes and we just couldn’t get them.”
Jason Butorac, co-owner of Canadian Tire, described similar sales.
“We basically doubled our bike business,” he said. “I’m sure we sold a couple thousand bikes, maybe 3,000 bikes. It’s up basically 100 percent.
“The country’s depleted of bikes and most summer categories because it’s been a global issue.”
Normally, Canadian Tire has a surplus of bikes left over in the fall that can be carried over into the next summer. Butorac says that probably won’t be the case this year.
“Bikes, we’re pretty much sold out,” he said. “We might have under 50 bikes, which is, like, nothing for us. Maybe 40 bikes.
“When you’ve got 500 Canadian Tires also having huge sales increases, it’s a strain on the supply chain. So bikes have been on standing order, which is like back-order, for about two months now.”
‘No one anticipated this’
Two other big-ticket items selling fast are canoes and kayaks.
Stirling said Overlander normally orders one big shipment of canoes and two of kayaks, with some usually carrying over to the next summer. This year, they are almost completely sold out.
“We’ve tried to reorder a couple times and we’ve managed to get a couple [canoes] here and there,” she said.
“That’s also very challenging because the boats we sell are pretty much all made in Canada. Canada is pretty small in terms of manufacturing so these are really small companies we’re dealing with.”
Butorac said sales of canoes and kayaks at Canadian Tire have “probably tripled this year.”
Meanwhile, other Yellowknifers stuck at home have been turning to gardening.
“No one had anticipated how this business would really blow up,” said Ginette Kidston at Yellowknife’s Boreal Garden Centre.
“It’s good that people are thinking of getting back to basics and a more simple way of life.
“I think people have been very interested in getting outside, planting the garden – maybe there’s a little bit of concern over our food supply. So of course, what better thing could people be doing, with their families especially, than to get outside and have a garden?”
Kidston said the first plants to sell out were flowers, shortly followed by house plants.
“We haven’t been able to keep up. We would have liked to order another whole shipment or two of flowers, but there wasn’t anywhere we could get any, because our suppliers themselves had gone out also.
“We’re expecting an order of house plants to come in next Monday and that will probably be our last order because, by the end of August and beginning of September, house plants need to come inside.”
Butorac said Canadian Tire has seen sales related to staining homes and other home projects go “through the roof,” while sales related to pet supplies have doubled.
“I would say 75 percent of our categories are through the roof,” he said.
Both Canadian Tire and Overlander Sports have seen increased sales of camping and outdoor gear.
“A lot of people are picking up lots of camping gear and getting out. It’s the same with running shoes and hiking shoes and all that sort of thing,” said Stirling.
Butorac predicts stores will not be able to catch up to demand until next year.
“I think there’s gonna be a strain the rest of the year,” he said. “Like, our sales are still through the roof.”