Rainy Lake Sports owners

Summer reporter
Marc Stuempfle

The new owners at Rainy Lake Sports, Missy and Derek Nelson, were hunting for a fresh opportunity when the couple agreed to purchase the store –a decision which brought along with it a lot of anxious nerves and enthusiasm.
Before officially taking over Rainy Lake Sports on June 3, Missy worked as a communication assistant for the Rainy River District School Board and Derek was a millwright at New Gold.
Buying a personal business was not something the couple had planned or even considered. It is not very often you see a well-established business in a prime location up for sale and it was a rare opportunity the Nelsons decided to take advantage of, mentioned Derek.
The couple first looked at purchasing the business a few years ago. Missy and Derek realized it was the right decision after coming back and re-evaluating the situation a year later.
“Two years ago, we were actually building our house when we first really thought about it, but it was just too much going on in our lives, so we kind of stepped away and waited a year,” admitted Derek.
The couple has been supportive of one another and Missy recognized Derek had always had a passion for the outdoors and could bring his experience to the business.
“Derek has experience in the bush and he’s an avid outdoorsman, and our kids like to be outdoors so they’ve spent lots of time out fishing and hunting,” noted Missy.
For both Missy and Derek, it was the allure of being able to work at home and together which influenced their final decision.
“The ability to work together as a team with my wife–I think that is one of our stronger assets. We get along; we’ve been together for 25 years,” stated Derek.
“Just to be able to work together every day. It was close to home. It was Derek’s passion–he likes to be outdoors and is an avid outdoorsman,” added Missy.
Nonetheless, running a business is new for the Nelsons and each of them have their concerns.
“It was scary, it’s the unknown–you don’t know what is going to happen,” said Missy.
“It’s something where we don’t have a lot of experience in the retail business. Really none, other than just our desire to do well and to do good,” added Derek.
But on the bright side, it will allow for Missy and Derek’s two children, Kale and Kaden, to gain first-hand experience about running a business and to learn how a good work ethic and determination pays off.
The couple also never expected to get as much support as they have from the previous owners, Mark and Tina Fontana.
“Mark and Tina have been great through the transition and helping us,” said Missy.
“They are giving us more than we expected from them and that has been really helpful,” she added.
“They are truly standouts. They are exceeding our expectations of them for assistance, giving us a lot of more advice and help than what we kind of thought,” said Derek.
“They have been here for 20 years. Basically, building it to what it is now, so they want to see it continue,” he added.
The Nelsons are grateful for all of the support from family and friends.
The hope is everyone who comes in receives quality products and has a positive experience said the couple.
They’re also open to any suggestions from the surrounding community and hope to see familiar and new faces.
“We look forward to seeing everybody–come in and meet us,” the Nelsons urged.