Coquitlam's Brad Leitch has become fairly adept at juggling multiple balls and wearing numerous hats.
Having successfully united two of his passions, soccer and retail business, together through his playing and coaching at Coquitlam Metro-Ford Soccer Club and as owner of Soccer Express, Leitch decided a few years ago to add another famous slogan to his lexicon - go big.
With the official opening tomorrow (Saturday at 9 a.m.) of the new Soccer Express Super Store, Leitch will unlock the doors to Canada's largest soccer store.
"Definitely, I'm excited but nervous," Leitch said of the venture, which will see the store provide onsite customizing available for clubs and individuals, a technical classroom and a product demo area, and three 70-inch TV screens.
"It's huge and it's a bold move, but for me it's just about delivering a complete soccer product in-store," said Leitch. "I really think we're reinventing the soccer retail business in North America."
It's been an evolution of sorts that strikes against what some of the larger box retail stores are doing these days.
While a number of major electronic retail stores are going from big box to satellite shops, Leitch saw a demand and an opportunity to put all his soccer eggs, metaphorically speaking, in one huge 10,000 square foot basket.
Relocating to 75 Blue Mountain St., visible from Hwy 1 near the Brunette Avenue exit, underscores both the longstanding store's Tri-City roots and a clientele that come from various points around the Lower Mainland.
"When we bought the (Barnet) soccer store in 1998, we began with $250,000 in sales," he recalls. "Last year we were at $5.5 million - and we do business across Canada, with a large part from Saskatchewan and Alberta."
Operating out of the 1,500-square foot Barnet Hwy. location, with as many as 14 other stores over the years, proved to be a challenge. While Kelowna will remain open for now, both the Barnet Hwy. and North Vancouver locations have shut their doors.
Barnet was where it all began.
"Being the local soccer store we were use to being like the barbershop for people from opposing clubs to come down and talk about the game," recalled Leitch.
Having developed strong bonds with B.C.'s many minor clubs - including Port Moody, North Coquitlam, PoCo and Coquitlam Metro-Ford - Leitch said players and teams will find enhanced inventory, service and the latest innovations in soccer gear all in one place.
"We just felt it was time for the consumers to have a one-stop shop. I think it's time," Leitch added.