The Rankin Inlet business community has a new member after Nitsik Leasing and Sales held its grand opening last week in Rankin Inlet.
The new business is owned by Chris Connelly and Leo (Dali) Kaludjak who have worked on getting the store open in Rankin for the past two years.
Connnelly, 32, said he and Kaludjak, 31, worked together for years and they go hunting together every weekend.
He said the two friends could never get everything they needed for a weekend hunting trip under one roof in Rankin.
“We’re talking anything from skinning knives to tarps, homemade hunting gear and things of that nature,” said Connelly.
“Sometimes you just couldn’t get what you wanted here at every store and, in fact, you often had to go to three or four different stores just to get anything and it was really expensive.
“We wanted to try and have a place where people could come and get everything they need to go fishing or hunting for the weekend, and at a fair price.
“Our main goal from day one was a one-stop-shopping place for all your hunting and fishing needs.”
And having just about anything a person needs Nitsik Leasing and Sales certainly does, from a qamutiik and nitsik to plenty of sewing tools for the ladies, and all made by Connelly and Kaludjak.
Connelly said he and Kaludjak are the only staff members at the store for now, but his sister, Avery, has been helping out quite a bit.
He said when they were ready to open the store they hoped to eventually hire local staff, but, after the grand opening, that might come a whole lot sooner than later.
“We’re already thinking about possibly expanding some of our lines such as safety gear, and we’re one of the vendors for Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM) so we can bid on contracts for stuff like that.
“So, for example, AEM may want to order 200 pairs of safety glasses, we’ll give them a price and then they’ll announce who they’re going through, whether it’s us, Home Hardware or whoever.
“We’re trying to get in good with AEM so we can supply Meliadine with tools and stuff.
We also sell Arctic Cat products and we’ve all ready sold a couple of ATVs and two snowmobiles.”
Connelly said the local business community has been happy for their early success.
He said pretty much every local business needed help and encouragement when first starting, and he and Kaludjak are appreciative of the support they’ve received so far.
“I don’t know why there hasn’t been an attempt to start an operation like ours before we came along – whether local businesses were just competing too much against each other or what. I’m not too sure
“It was crazy busy during our grand opening, and we found ourselves re-ordering a lot of stuff (the next morning) that we sold-out of during the first day.
“Our biggest sale item was the old ceramic hunting teacups. We had two cases of those and they were gone in like an hour and a half.
“They’re really durable cups that everybody loves to take out hunting, and they’re really hard to find. We were the only place in town with them, and people really like those cups because they’re so tough and last forever.”
Connelly estimates about 400 people went through the store on its first day.
He said watching the people file through during the Grand Opening, it was almost hard to believe that he and Kaludjak had been working to get the store open for the past two years.
“It took awhile, but we finally got it open.
“We kept pushing since the day we decided we were actually going to do it. We knew it was going to happen, we just didn’t know when.
“The paperwork was nonstop but it was worth it in the end.
“And I hope Leo and I run this store for the rest of our lives now.”