Q&A with Heath Cockburn of The 11 Inc.
Heath Cockburn is a former racer who opened a dynamic cycling retail store, The 11 Inc. at CF Shops at Don Mills. With a wide range of products, including clothing, gear and bicycles from coveted brands like Shinola and Bianchi, the cycling store is a destination for anyone who rides.
We visited The 11 Inc. for a test drive, and tour of the immaculate store and shopping experience. We noticed a female customer get measured and fitted for a bike with the store’s exclusive-in-Canada bike fitting database; she later walked out with her perfect-fitting racing bike. A wall-of-fame of jerseys from cyclists outlined one wall, while the Tour De France played on a TV in the inviting lounge. We caught up with Cockburn to learn a little more about what drives him and The 11 Inc.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background.
A: I used to race bicycles, and bicycles have pretty much become part of my DNA. I’ve worked on the manufacturing side of the business, I’ve worked the retail side of the business and everything has sort of led to me building my own store and trying to see my own vision in cycling come through.
Q: Tell us a bit about your store – when someone walks in, how would you describe it?
A: The goal of the store is when people walk in here– if you like cycling, it’s a place that should immediately intrigue you, and also make you feel very welcome and make you want to explore the entire space.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out cycling?
A: The biggest thing especially with road bikes, the critical element to enjoying cycling is getting a good fit. And when you are looking to get into road biking, the first thing you should look for is finding a way to get a bike that fits you best.
Q: How do you offer the best fit in your store?
A: We have a number of different machines and processes that we use. We have something that’s called Radlabor, which is in conjunction with Scott bicycles. Right now, it’s the only one in Canada. It’s a tool that has more than a million bike fits in its database, and over 80 bike brands. That can be a really helpful tool to help people find the right bike for them.
Q: Why did you choose CF Shops at Don Mills to open The 11 Inc.?
A: I’ve always enjoyed coming here with my family, going to the restaurants, stuff like that. I always thought it was a very interesting, fun place that had a lot for the entire family. I thought it was a really great way to set up our bike store because we really wanted to focus on creating a much better retail environment, and I really saw that here at the Shops at Don Mills…In conjunction with our vision, was really like-minded.
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