Student-run supplement store sees fifth month of success and more
After opening for business in August of 2016, Showtime Supplements is rounding the corner to success in it’s unique and remarkable foundation.
The student-run business, owned by Curtis Colbary and Taylor Olsen, is a supplement and health brand centering around the sale of protein and other exercise products for bodybuilders, athletes, paramedics, policemen, and many more.
In an interview with The Xaverian Weekly, Colbary and Olsen dated the inception of the store to their first time in Antigonish struggling to find products for their own use. Having to then travel to New Glasgow for protein supplements, the couple grew weary after the third time having done the trip.
“After about the third trip…we got home that night and I said we need to open a store here, I'm not driving anymore,” Colbary explained.
“As simple as it sounds, that is what happened,” Olsen cheerfully added.
But it did not stop there.
Colbary later researched a lot of possible ideas - but it was Olsen that mentioned the possibility of consulting someone who knew what they were doing and had experience.
According to Colbary and Olsen, it was StFX Business professor Mark MacIsaac who was the starting point.
“I saw Mark (MacIsaac) in Mini Moes one time and simply asked him if he would be available for a meeting, and what was supposed to be a five-minute chat turned into an hour-long discussion,” Colbary said.
At first, MacIsaac along with Olsen, were against the idea of opening a store due to the lofty initial overhead costs for the two students. Though there were other ideas as well according to the couple. One idea was to create custom supplements for larger companies and organizations like StFX Athletics and larger training facilities.
But Olsen shed light on the persistency of Colbary and his innate innovativeness which drove the pair to start looking at store options more realistically.
Both Colbary and Olsen also attribute the initial possibility of the store to the generosity of their families with both financial and communal support.
After making the final decision to proceed, Colbary thought best to fly to Antigonish during summer of 2016 to scout locations to rent. While looking, Colbary came across a few places such as the closed X Burger space as well as Micro Boutique. However, it came down to what place had the cheapest rent. The MacLeod Group, which owns close to eighty percent of the towns commercial space according to Colbary, had a small, but affordable space with an expiring lease the then tenants were not renewing. He then took this as a sign to take the space which is now Showtime Supplements current spot on the corner of Main St. and Sydney St.
“We just wanted to find a place we didn’t have to waste all our capital on,” Colbary explained.
Having previously registered and licensed the brand back in October of 2015, the two owners could then begin the physical process of setting up the shop. In July of 2016, Colbary began the painting and shelving with his grandfather and managed full stock in supply in time to open in August.
Both Olsen and Colbary admit that with the store opening and the beginning of the school year, they would have their hands tied.
“It all kind of came together very quickly, we knew we wanted to be open for the beginning of the year…but time-management and balancing social life are challenges for us,” both admitted.
But not just Olsen and Colbary have those issues. The other four employees are full-time students too, adding further complications to scheduling. But the two owners have expressed the ability to ensure proper timetables so that both themselves can work and cut pay roll down, an essential for small business.
Although the shop’s key people have managed well, both still confessed they have yet still quite a bit to learn. Colbary and Olsen showed gratitude to the business faculty at StFX.
“We would not be where we are today without the help of Mark MacIsaac along with many other business professors.” Olsen stated.
MacIsaac himself issued a statement to The Xaverian on the matter voicing his support:
“There’s no better way to learn about business than by starting a new venture, and that learning is just a tremendous asset in the classroom, for them and everyone they work with.”
Olsen further went on to say how valuable having a third-party to bounce ideas off of – especially those like MacIsaac who have more experience and ties to the Antigonish community which takes a load off the stress.
But with all the hard work managing time, there has been significant success in such a short amount of time – perhaps due to the energetic growth of the supplement market which Colbary pegs at an annual 33% growth rate.
Yet the two marvel at the idea of having repeated customers which in their eyes is what success really looks like.
“We try to learn everyone’s names when they come in, we like having people come in again because that shows they enjoy our products,” Colbary said.
Olsen chimed in as well remarking at the success their merchandise has had with not only frequent gym goers, but all over the world. In first semester Showtime sent a package of products to seamen and women of the Canadian Navy serving abroad, showing the speed at which the brand has grown. Though a simple design the two came up with in the middle of the night, the t-shirts and hats have been a big sell and are regularly seen at the campus gym but also at the town’s Goodlife gym, which Showtime has a vendor agreement with.
“It’s surreal to see our hats and shirts everywhere in town and on campus…sometimes in our classes...most people don’t know we’re the owners because we don’t really broadcast it that much,” Olsen said.
With Olsen in human resources and Colbary going into accounting the pair make a productive team. Olsen more of management and organizational individual, seeks to have long-term sustainability whereas Colbary, who is more involved with money management, logistics, and direct sales, deals with more of the behind-the-scene work.
Presently, the store is gearing up for what could be the first pivotal change in it’s short, but impressive run so far. The brand is looking at its recent partnership with another supplier to open itself up more to market accessibility, with larger brands like Muscletech, Allmax, Rivalus, and more.
As for the future, it is too early to say what is certain and what is not. Olsen and Colbary state that they ‘obviously’ wish to branch out – which both have a variety of views on. The two celebrated the idea of starting charities and helping out local youth hockey teams, but financial goals still loom in the distance. Being the only location in town besides Walmart, the two believe they have a monopoly on the Antigonish market therefore those end goals may have a realistic sense:
“We have a general interest in developing Antigonish, because it is so under-developed, and there is so much potential here. There are so many kids from all over the country coming here ready to spend money.”
When asked about being student-entrepreneurs, Olsen and Colbary said it’s “All about learning on the spot…sometimes we’ll spend nights researching blogs on other business…It’s all trial and error with a lot of hiccups in the way.”
Both then offered their help to those following in the entrepreneurial path, whether it’s StFX students or town folk:
“You’ve got to start at the bottom and scrape away, don’t be afraid just because you’re young, and don’t be afraid to ask for help, we ask professors all the time for it.”
To contact Showtime Supplements, they can be reached by contacting the Facebook or Instagram pages or by showing up at the store on 220 Main St.
Showtime Supplements will also be hosting an event at the Split Crow on January 28 with DJ Dick, a signature drink, and much more.