First some background - since this was my first triathlon, I have not had to enter too many swimming stores. My FMCT club is sponsored by the store but I actually called Swim & Sports (Mississauga, Ontario) after seeing the ad on a triathlon series website. I now know that I have a connection to the store for the future which works out very well for the following reasons.
Why they win the Award - when I was calling around to rent a wetsuit, I phoned a few different places in the area. Swim & Sports were second on the list. The lady that answered the phone was really nice and very thoughtful. She listened to my situation and when I asked if they rented sleeveless wetsuits so politely said no. In most cases this would lead to an up sell to another product or the end of the conversation. She continued to help me out with some pointers for my first swim and gave me the name of another retailer that may rent out what I was looking for. I knew the store and told her that I could look up their number but she was already on the case and provided that as well. I was impressed by the service she was giving even though it may lead to a sale for a competitor.
As the other place did not have the sleeveless option, I made sure to give Swim & Sports my business thanks to the special treatment I had received on the phone. When I arrived I was greeted by Alan, who set me up with my rental. He had a lot of tips and wetsuit information that I never even thought about during the lead up to this race. Once in the suit, he then positioned me properly in the gear to show me exactly how it should fit and then let me know what I should look for to get back to this fit on race day. As I checked out, he continued to pass along some very handy suggestions that I stored away upstairs and remembered at the tri to complete my first transition in very competitive fashion.
The swim, on race day, went well thanks to the suit which definitely made it so much better. The unfortunate thing was that I put a 4 inch tear in the shoulder removing the suit running up the beach to my bike rack. I felt terrible and started to worry about the extra cost associated with this venture into the tri world.
With the race completed early Saturday, I had a few days to think about this rip which was unsettling to say the least. The store did not open until Tuesday (they are closed Sunday and Monday) so I had to wait to find out the damage, dollar wise. Wanting to be prepared, I called ahead to see what their policy was for that type of damage and to my delight I was told that they have accounted for it and they will be able to repair before the next person rents.
This was a huge relief as I heard through the grapevine that some places may charge around $60 for the repair. At that rate, I may as well have bought the suit. As it turns out, I had a more than pleasant experience renting from Swim & Sports and would recommend their service in a hear beat. I know the service I received will bring me back to them when I buy my own suit this winter!
Here are some other details that made this rental an easy sell -
Cost - $35 for the week (you can pick it up Wednesday and return it the following Tuesday. This was the best value I received from the places I called by a long shot!
Tri Friendly - I was surprised at all the tri specific gear they carried. I figured it was just a bunch of swimming products that people could use as tri gear but they actually cater to the tri community in a big way.
Product Knowledge - the staff knew their stuff which really helped me as I couldn't tell you the difference between wetsuits, how to find sizes, or what type of goggle is best for outdoor swimming.
Much, much more...