Interview with Marissa Martin, HERC's Calgary owner

Interview with Marissa Martin, HERC's Calgary owner

Jackie Rupp | Digital Content Director

Meet Marissa Martin

Owner HERC's Calgary

Website: https://hercs.com/pages/hercs-calgary

Instagram: @HERCs_YYC, @HERCs_ YYC2

Tell me a little bit about your background. I've heard from a lot of people that you have a cool story, and I've been dying to chat with you to find out. So walk us through how you became a HERC's owner?

I was working admin jobs in a hospital in Red Deer. Then I would shop at the Red Deer HERC's all the time. So when I decided to completely uproot and move to Calgary with no notice, I was struggling there. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was working a bunch of random jobs and every time I had someone come visit me from Red Deer, like my parents or my friends. I would say, ‘You have to stop at HERC's and you have to buy me this, this and this, because I can't find a supplement store here that I like.’ 

So then it had been in my mind before, maybe I should open a HERC's, but I wasn't sure if I was going to do that. It seems risky and difficult. Then my dad said, ‘Okay, I've done 10 trips to HERC's Red Deer for you. Why isn't this what you're doing?’ He was the final push that made me think that someone else has said it, now I can do it.

Oh, that's awesome. Have you always had a fitness background or is that new for you?

It was always a hobby. I was working out. I competed a couple of times. I was dabbling in online nutrition coaching. I had a lot of mentors in the fitness industry. So I knew I needed to shift my life more into working in the fitness industry. I just wasn't sure how. So I tried out a whole bunch of different areas. And then once HERC's became an idea, I was sold.

So tell me what's life like for you outside of the store? You're a single mom? 

Yeah, I've got a two-year-old, so she's very busy.

I can only imagine. So was there any sort of intimidation for you, like, “Can I pull off this being a business owner and mom?’ Tell me what that experience was like starting out. 

Dave Decker can vouch for my mental breakdowns because I had my daughter right before my store turned one. I was doing it all by myself and I didn't think I could do it. I made him fly out from Ontario to come to see me. I had a full mental breakdown with him. He said, ‘Calm down, you can do it.’ It took a while obviously because then COVID hit and it was just a lot all at once. But it's been wild, but I'm thriving in chaos. I think.

That's a great way to put it. What's your advice to other moms out there and women in general that want to start their own business and do their own thing?

There's never going to be a right time and it's never gonna feel perfect, timing-wise, you just need to jump and you'll figure it out. Don't wait for it, because it's going to pass and never happen.

Right? We just keep saying, wouldn't it be nice? Wouldn't it be nice to do this and that doesn't get you anywhere?

Exactly. ‘When this is done, then I can do this,’ or ‘When the timing is right, then I can do this,’ and the timing is never going to be perfect. Just do it and figure it out.

How do you maintain such a busy schedule? Because I think a lot of us deal with just the overwhelm of there are so many different things to do in one day. How do we get it all accomplished? Is that a struggle for you?

It is. Outsource what you can outsource. Grocery delivery is my best friend. Scheduling is important and planning.

What's it like for you as a woman business owner in the fitness industry? Have there been any challenges or resistance? Because we can be the minority when it comes to business owners in this niche area.

Yeah, it's tough. Especially when I first started, I would get emails sent to me like, ‘Hey, dude,’ like ‘Hello, sir.’ ‘Thanks, man.’ I would say, ‘No, it's me. I'm a woman.’ Or I would have men, salespeople come into the store to sell me like security systems or debit terminals, or whatever. If a male friend was visiting me or anything, they would talk to them. The guy wouldn't even be paying attention or answering the questions. I was the one answering the questions, but they wouldn't even look at me. I would say, ‘Hello, over here.’ But it's getting better now because I am pretty assertive and sassy to a point where I say, ‘No, do not address me as dude, thank you.’

I love that. And I think we can all kind of empathize with having those experiences.

Yeah, it's a pain.

 

Can you speak to the intimidation that some of us feel as women going into a nutrition store? Just, personally speaking, I've always had that hesitancy that, oh, ‘I'm not at that level. I'm not working out enough that I deserve to be here.’ Or ‘I'm not one of those guys that have the bodybuilder body, so I don't belong here.’ Can you talk about that, and kind of us getting over that hump?

That was a huge reason for my store, too. Because when I moved, every store that I walked into, not to be rude or anything, but usually the boy working wouldn't pay me any attention, didn't know how to answer my questions, and would just push a product on me. Even though I didn't necessarily look like a bodybuilder or super fit, I did know supplements enough that I knew not to buy what he was telling me to buy. But I know that a lot of people don't know that. So that's where going to HERC's in Red Deer changed so much for me because it doesn't have to be scary. 

I don't have to research and pre-buy everything online and just walk in and pick my stuff. I can talk to someone. So that's been huge. I'm just really trying to let people in Calgary know that HERC's exists. Come in and talk to us. You don't have to be scared. You don't have to think that we're gonna push products on you that you don't need. We want to get to know you. We want to help you. So it's tough.

That's super reassuring. I love that. Tell me about the new program now with the virtual consultations, because that sounds cool and exciting and something that we can all just do from our couch, right?

Yeah, if you're not able to come in, or if COVID things have you scared and you don't want to necessarily go and spend a lot of time in the store, you can go online and you can book a video and chat with me. Then we can walk through the store together, we can talk about the products, you can then add them to your cart while we are talking. You can order them and we'll ship them to you. It's a nice alternative. You get the in-store experience from your house.

Fun! Do you have any advice for maybe newbies or people that want to get back into the swing of things? What's a couple of base products that we should think about using to kickstart that program?

I always say ‘Keep it Simple.’ So start with your vitamins. A good quality omega and some greens products. Get your base internal health functioning properly before you start going elsewhere and make sure that you're eating enough protein. That’s a big one that a lot of people aren’t doing. Especially coming from after Christmas. We're all on sugar highs and eating unhealthy for three weeks. So getting back to the basics, like protein. Grab a protein shake when you're having a snack or something instead of reaching for a candy bar like you've been doing for all of December. Then start simple and start from there and then go up, but don't try to set yourself a huge goal because that doesn't ever work. 

These New Year's resolutions are kind of a bummer in some way, because we have high expectations and then they kind of fall off. What's your advice to somebody that wants to start a fitness program? Is there any sort of specifics that you like, especially for beginners to try out?

In terms of fitness, I like getting a coach because accountability is huge. You can get yourself a program but if there's no one holding you to it, you're not going to follow through with it. So it's just having that person in your corner, having them in your back pocket. So many coaches now are accessible 24/7. So you can shoot them a text like, ‘Hey, I'm struggling today.’ That thing is huge for a lot of people, myself included.

Yeah, I agree. So tell me about your new location, because this is some exciting news. Congratulations first off.

Yeah. I have been working on this for the majority of 2021. So basically a year now. We're ready to open in January 2022. Finally, we're going to have more options for HERC's in Calgary and I'm so pumped for it.

Very cool. So what's the location like and where is it specifically?

So it's in Deerfoot City. It's in the northeast of Calgary. It's kind of like an outlet mall feeling or an outdoor mall feeling. So it's not your traditional mall, but there's so much shopping there. There's a big GoodLife. There's a Rec Room, there's an iFly, the indoor skydiving. It's a really good destination for people.

Oh, cool. That's great. You'll have to give us a tour soon of the new location. We're anxious to see what it looks like. What products are you loving right now? Do you have any inside scoop that you can give us on stuff that we might overlook or just any of the real favourites that you'd like to shout out?

Yeah, something that's been helping me a lot lately. It's a local product. The business is located in Calgary so it's Gloss CBD. That's been huge for me lately because my anxiety and my overthinking have been out of control. So that has been helping me a lot. It helps with your sleep quality, helps with your brain fog, helps with anxiety, depression, everything. 

That sounds fantastic if it can help with all those things. Yeah, that's a great one. You mentioned a local business and that made me think of something I wanted to ask you about. HERC's online can seem like this big nationwide business but I wanted to ask you about how we can support you and your local business with the online shop, but also what it means to be a small business and have that support of the community.

There used to be a time when people would look up HERCs.com and they thought that it's a separate entity than HERC's Calgary that I go to, but especially for me and my current store, we're downtown, we're not always accessible to people that live in the north or in Airdrie. So when you go on to HERCs.com, you can shop my store directly. I ship the product to you. So even though it seems like you're buying off an Amazon for supplements, you're buying from me, which means so much to me, and I love getting to ship out your orders. 

That's great to hear.  I think so many of us want to support a local business and a local business owner and see you prosper and help the community. Can you talk about what it feels like to be a resource for everyone in your community for fitness, health and nutrition?

 

It's so nice. I love the community that we've built and I love being a hub for people. I work with different trainers, different coaches and different gyms. So when we have people shopping and especially people that are brand new to fitness, brand new to making healthier choices and their nutrition, brand new to working out, they can come to me and say, ‘Okay, Marissa, I bought my protein, but I don't know how often I should be using it,’ or ‘When I should be using it.’ Yes, I can give you suggestions, but I don't know you as much as a personal trainer would, or a nutrition coach would. So that's where I can say, ‘Here's this person, I know enough about you to think that you guys would be a really good fit, reach out to them. They can help you with your workouts and can help you with all of your nutrition.’ It's just a nice way to keep bringing people together and be a matchmaker.

Oh, cool. Yeah. I didn't even think of that part of the equation there.

Yeah, especially because I've got my certain coaches who coach powerlifting people, bodybuilding, or lifestyle and everyone has their specialties and their little niche markets. So when I know those customers a little bit better than just a random person off the street, I know that this coach would be a better fit for you. So it's nice to be able to fit them together. Then when that coach decides, ‘Okay, you need to be on this vitamin or this supplement,’ they can come back to me and grab it all. It's just a lot easier for the customer in that way.

Oh, very cool. So, one last question for you. I don't want to take up too much of your time. What would you like people to know about you beyond the store and beyond working out? Tell us a couple of fun things about you just as a person. What do you like to do when you're not working out and working at the store?

When is that? (laughs) I take my dog for a lot of walks and we hang out. We go visit family a lot. Especially having a little one it's nice to go see grandparents and do things like that. Especially at Christmas time. I think everyone that comes to my store knows I like to bake so I've got Christmas cookies there and little treats for everyone. It's just something fun. Those little snippets of spare time that I have, that's what I do.

I hear you. What's your favourite cookie to bake?

I make these Italian Christmas cookies. It's from my mom, I think. But they have ricotta cheese in them. And it sounds so weird, but the best cookie ever.

Oh, that sounds good. Like ricotta cheesecake almost. Right?

Kinda. I honestly don't even know the recipe by heart. I just know it has cheese in it. It's this long recipe and makes four dozen cookies.

Sounds like a lot of ingredients. Well, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us. 

Thank you.

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