Family-run Robinson’s Outdoor Store celebrates 90 years

WatchRobinson’s Outdoor Store started out as a bicycle shop back in 1929 and it’s now celebrating 90 years. Tess van Straaten takes us back through the decades of this four-generation family business.

It’s been a Victoria institution for decades and Robinson’s Outdoor Store is now celebrating a major milestone — 90 years in business.

George Robinson started the business as a bicycle shop back in 1929, just three days after the Black Tuesday stock market crash.

It was a big risk but out of challenge comes opportunity.

And George, followed by his son Doug Robinson, and then granddaughter Gayle Robinson, were all up for the challenge.

Gayle’s now sharing the reigns with her daughter, Erin Boggs, and says her grandfather taught her to have the courage to take risks and to find your niche.

“We’re all about hiking, adventure travel and fly fishing,” says Robinson.

And it worked. Despite increasing competition, Robinson’s is Victoria’s premier outdoor store.

“I think it’s thriving for sure,” says manager Matt King, who’s worked for Robinson’s for 22 years . “We live in a great place. Vancouver Island is a great place to get out and get into nature.”

Fewer than five percent of family businesses make it to the third generation, let alone the fourth.

Robinson’s is a true a success story — surviving not only the Great Depression but a world war and several economic downturns.

“Every time I get a bit overwhelmed by the odds against me with big box coming in and other completion, I just think if he could handle a world war and a depression, I’ll take on big box,” laughs Robinson. “What do we bring to the table that big box doesn’t? Service, knowledge and value. That’s what we’ve done.”

For Boggs, now the fourth generation to run the business, those special interactions with customers are what she cherishes most.

“We talk about their trips and where they’re going and it really feels like we create a relationship with them,” Erin Boggs says. “There’s so many familiar faces that come in and I think that’s why we are thriving, because we provide something different and we love what we do and we love our customers.”

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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