The Sundance Spa Store

Finding your niche and your people

Photography by Steven McNeil

Owners: Bill Elliot, Greg Pieczonka, Scott Coombe
Mississauga, St. Catharines, Oakville, Vaughan, Burlington and Hamilton in Ontario, Canada
Hot Tubs: Sundance Spas
Chemicals: Capo
Accessories: Leisure Concepts
Backyard Living: Finnleo saunas

Bill Elliot, co-owner of The Sundance Spa Store in Ontario with longtime friends Greg Pieczonka and Scott Coombe, says the three of them are still somewhat surprised by the company’s success. “We keep going back through our files and can’t see anywhere that we planned to open this many stores,” Elliot says. “It just kind of kept happening.”

The trio opened their first store in 2003, and the company enjoyed a successful first year. “We had a great trajectory,” Elliot says. In 2006, they opened a second location in Oakville, a market underrepresented at the time. He says it made sense to replicate the company’s success in the next town over: “We had a business model at that point and didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

To weather the financial crisis of 2008, The Sundance Spa Store took a frugal approach so they could keep all their employees, and did not expand for the next couple of years. A third location opened in 2010, however, and two more followed over the next eight years. The most recent location, in Hamilton, opened in spring 2019, making it the sixth store in 15 years’ time.

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“ ‘Build it and they will come’ is a lovely phrase to have in life, but a little ambiguous in business,” Elliot says. “ ‘Business doesn’t work unless you do’ is a little more realistic. This being our sixth location, we are getting pretty good at setting up, hiring and incorporating the new business into our day-to-day operations.”

There were only two delays with the opening of the sixth location: Construction took longer to complete than planned, and the website changes were more cumbersome than digital partners had anticipated. While the construction delay caused the Hamilton store to miss some of the early spring sales, Elliot says the store’s current momentum suggests it will make up for lost time this fall.

Elliot says sales are running at about 65% of initial projections, which is about 65% more business than it did at this time last year, “so I’d say business is booming,” he says. “The service clientele we have picked up has been stronger than we anticipated and is a great start at demonstrating our capability and professionalism to the surrounding community, not to mention good revenue while hot tub sales gradually increase.”

A seventh location is likely imminent, Elliot says, “but we’d all like a little to time to rest and get our bodies back in shape before we have another child — showroom, I should say.”