In 1966 twelve top cricketers from Bermuda were on tour in Canada together and a conversation was begun that would change their lives. The two-week Select tour brought out a lot of passion and energy from the group and the men agreed that they wanted to go into business together, although their initial thoughts were scattered and undefined. By April the next year, they were opening the International Sports Shop on Bermudiana Road, with William Minors at the helm, having stepped forward to manage the store.
The initial location was where Opus bar now stands and it has moved twice since, although always keeping to the same street and with the same landlord. In 1973 the International Sports Shop moved to where Portofino’s now stands and 22 years later moved to its current location – at the corner of the International Building, which by coincidence, carries the same name. The store, now under new ownership has been in that location for the past 13 years.
It was a tough decision for the shareholders to sell but when Mr. Minors, Managing Director explained that after 40 years in the business and well past retirement age, he was ready to hang his boots, they agreed it was for the best.
The principle directors and primary owners of the business were sporting greats and all Cup Match cricketers in their time. Cal “Bummy” Simons, a national cricketer and footballer, Dennis Wainwright, President of the Body Builders Association and a top cricketer, Eldon Raynor and the late Charles Daulphin. “We were all at the heart of decision making and the store reflected who we are,” Mr. Minors recalls. The group all saved their money to start the venture and Mr. Minors had an evening job until the store was self-sustaining.
The legacy continues as it is handed over to a younger group of sportsmen, equally dedicated to doing things jointly. Mr. Minors says of the sale, “We’re so pleased that it was sold to these guys, they reminded us a little of ourselves. “It is good for the owners to be connected to the sporting world, it makes a big difference.”
Mr. Minors sings the praises of his staff also, who made the store the success that it is today. “I built a high confidence in the people who worked for me and gave them a lot of responsibility. “They are an advantage to the new owners, a built-in asset. “They enjoy working there, they know the stock and the customers, and they have an excellent memory. It is very hard to find staff like that,” he expounds.
The value of the full time staff Tina Brangman, who has worked in the store 11 years and Alicia Edwards, on the team for 16 years, is not lost on the new owners. “When we saw them work and recognised their work ethic we knew we wanted to keep them and we’re pleased they wanted to stay,” Mr. Hurdle says. “They know our customers, their needs and wants. “They are the tradition and loyalty that comes with the International Sports Shop. “Customers speak very highly of them and they deliver personalized service and remember your name.”
One of several highlights over the years for Mr. Minors included Evander Holyfield visiting the store. “He was staying at the Bermudiana Hotel and bought a Bermuda cap,” he recalls.
The name came about because half a dozen shareholders were international sportsmen, “We didn’t have too much trouble agreeing on the name,” says Mr. Minors.
Sales Associate Ms. Brangman remembers Mr. Minors as “a great boss and a friend.” Of the changes to the store under new ownership she says, “Bermuda has been needing this. Our customers will come back regardless of the changes because we still offer the same good service and we’re already seeing a lot of new faces.” A new chapter of a long and interesting history unfolds.