I have been shopping at this place for years. Prices are great and staff are very friendly. I had a chance to interview the store manager Brandon Riley. Here it is:
How did you get involved with Mikado?
Mikado is a family business that started with my great grandparents and we have been at this location for over 40 years. I went to grad school in the states and at about the time that I was graduating, I had an aunt on the verge of retirement so I joined the family business. As a business in what was once Japan Town, we have always been strong in karate and judo, but our biggest changes over the past 3-4 years were developing a full line of boxing and MMA equipment along with bringing in popular name brand products such as Rival, Reign and Hayabusa.
Do you have any martial arts background?
My background is in Judo, my parents signed me up at Seikidokan Dojo when I was 7 or 8. The dojo was at Killarney Community Centre at the time and had a really strong youth program.
How is your store different from other martial arts equipment stores?
To be honest, there aren’t as many equipment stores as there once were. There are just so many different brands and items out there these days that it is hard for the smaller shops to compete. What makes our store unique is the personal touch that you get by walking in and having a chat with us about the gear you need. When it comes to martial arts equipment I believe that feel is so important and we see a lot of people year after year because they want to feel fabric of our gis or try them on to see the sleeve length. I also cannot think of a store where you are given wraps and boxing gloves and encouraged to hit a bag.
What are some of the challenges of your business?
Our biggest challenge is also a major advantage and that is the internet. We have new people finding us every day through our website www.mikadomartialarts.com, but at the same time there are so many new interesting products being introduced that it can be a bit confusing as there are just so many choices. The tough part is looking at all of these items and determining if these new innovations are for the better or just marketing gimmicks and if they would add to our store.