Small Business Spotlight: Pro Image

By Randy Cooray

To be the ‘little-guy’ trying to succeed in a multi-billion dollar industry is never easy. From the restaurant business, to traditional clothing, electronics and more–it has never been as difficult for a single owner to capitalize on any respective market.

With that said, it would be hard to find another industry that enjoys higher revenues than in the world of sports. In a comparison of athletes’ contracts with one professional North American sports league, a player’s annual salary has increased an average of five times between 2000 and 2010. With the value of professional teams at close to $1-billion dollars, more and more people are spending money on their favourite sports.

Demands of the general public is the reason for the rising numbers. The demand for sports apparel alone has become huge among ‘sports-nuts.’ Whether flocking to big box stores or smaller outlets, they are always looking to manufacturers to meet their specific needs with the most up-to-date products.

Marco Triolo is an independent retailer of The Pro Image, located in Brampton, Ontario. Starting in the industry part-time while in college in 1999, Triolo bought the store in 2007 and took his passion for sports to a whole new level.

“Sports, in general, is a very popular topic amongst the "water cooler" crowd, and almost everyone at one point or another find themselves talking, watching or participating in sports,” says Triolo. “For me to be able to supply people with apparel in support of their favourite teams is an opportunity I relish.”

Triolo attributes the high demand for sports apparel to growth in television broadcasting. Speciality channels continue to crop up where not only dedicated channels exist for leagues, but for teams as well.

“Sports coverage today is bigger and more in-depth than ever before. With almost every major sport in the world being covered by major networks, it allows fans to follow teams they like on a global level.  This in-turn creates new fans and, more importantly, offers tremendous exposure for the garments being worn by the athletes,” says Triolo.

A passion for sports requires some care and feeding… in the form of merchandise, event tickets, and more—no small investment. Thus, illegal sales of merchandise, where customers can buy counterfeit items for a fraction of the cost, is a huge problem that Triolo and his colleagues are well aware of.

Fortunately, the RCMP established a specialized unit that works to enforce strict laws against sales of illegal products. “If successful, the program will do wonders in terms of eliminating counterfeit apparel,” says Triolo. NIKE has also joined the fight as one of the first companies to introduce anti-counterfeit technology, with other companies happy to follow.

To learn more about The Pro Image, e-mail Marco at [email protected].

By Adam

May 09, 2011