Erik Laithwaite and Jason Proulx are settling into their new ownership roles at Gerick Cycle Sport Centre.

Erik Laithwaite and Jason Proulx are settling into their new ownership roles at Gerick Cycle Sport Centre.

Trail’s Gerick Cycle sport Centre has new but familiar faces at the helm

Trail sports store owner hands keys over to employees

A go-to sports centre that has made a name for itself in the Home of the Champions since 1982 has changed hands in ownership.

Self-described exercise junkie Gerald Klassen has passed the keys to Gerick Cycle Sport Centre off to his former employees Jason Proulx, 32, and 24-year-old Erik Laithwaite.

“These younger fellows understandably wanted to get their lives going, get their careers rolling, and somebody in my position doesn’t want to lose a chance like that,” he said. “It was time.”

Klassen started Gerick’s in Trail with humble beginnings in an 800-square-foot storefront on Bay Avenue, prior to relocating his expanding business to a Rossland Avenue location that currently houses the Canadian Cancer Society and Interior Signs, lastly setting up shop at the neighbouring facility.

The 11,000 square-foot shop is a true testament to a recreation haven that manages to attract and keep sports enthusiasts residing in Greater Trail.

The specialty shop offers gear for just about every sport but golf, including Nordic touring, skating and light touring, alpine and backcountry skiing, hockey, curling, soccer, baseball, cycling and more.

“The business has been successful for 30 years and Gerald has been our mentor and trainer so changing anything would be a dumb move on our part,” said Proulx, who has worked at the Trail store for 16 years. “There certainly will be subtle changes and we’re going to put our own ideas into the business but for the most part, I think people can expect to come into the same environment they’ve been used to coming to for many years.”

The two bosses will continue to employ three full-time staff, two part-timers and up to five bike builders.

The partners don’t want to rid the shop of Klassen, either, whose voice and face is a trademark for sports in Trail.

Klassen will continue to do radio commercials, act as a special events coordinator and will remain available by retail appointment.

Gerick’s prides itself on quality product, good prices and customer service – a reputation Klassen said the new co-owners will have no problem carrying on.

Jason basically has his doctorate in retail services and Erik has his masters,” he laughed.

Laithwaite may not have guessed that he would be a business owner at such a young age when he first started on about six years ago but was quickly brought into future investment conversations early in his career at Gerick’s.

“When you walk in the door, you never know what’s going to come your way,” said Laithwaite. “And as far as having sports equipment at your fingertips, that’s a taste you acquire and it’s super addictive.”

The sports environment hooked Proulx at a young age, too. The Trail boy was already playing hockey, soccer and hitting the slopes at Red but has found himself delving into other sports like cycling over the years.

“It just really matches my personality,” he said. “Being social and helping people with things that I love to do.”

Gerick Cycle Sport Centre is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday (with Fridays stretching later to 7 p.m.) and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Klassen is settling into retirement well with equal excitement for upcoming events this spring and summer.

The annual Dam Run is scheduled for April 15; Gerick’s bike swap is planned for April 28 (bringing back homemade wood-fired pizza by The Rustic Crust); and the Silver City Days Fun Run is set for May 14.

More details can be found at the store located at 930 Rossland Ave. (364-1661).