Shoppable Business had the opportunity to get in touch with one of the country’s leading sporting goods stores, Toby’s Sports. We asked the questions you want to know about, including their humble beginnings and vision for the future. Now, one of Shoppable Business’ sellers, check out this exclusive interview with Toby’s Sports, and let’s all learn from their success.
Toby’s Sports is a prominent name in the Filipino sporting goods industry. Today we’d like to bring the spotlight into Toby’s and their humble beginnings; how did you start? What’s your history?
It started in 1978 as a tiny 15 sqm toy store in Virra Mall, Greenhills, by my dad Bobby Claudio. Being a toy store, he decided to name it after me, his 5-year-old son. But his passion wasn’t toys, but rather sports. He was an avid pelota and tennis player, and he noticed that at the time, there were no dedicated sports pro shops that offered a wide range of gear plus services like racket stringing. So after one year, he converted it from Toby’s Forms and Shapes (the toy store) to Toby’s Sports and Hobbies.
Skateboarding boomed at the time, and it was the first sport we pioneered in the country. From those early days, we’ve grown to a chain of 61 stores plus 2 RUNNR and 4 urbanAthletics stores for a total of 67 stores nationwide as of 2022.
Excluding the people born in the last five years, it seems almost, if not all, Filipinos residing in the Philippines know your brand – Toby’s, Toby’s Sports; it always rings a bell. And this is extremely important in business, so we’d like to know how you captured the Filipino audience. How did you make Filipinos more interested in sports? Is there any method you used to captivate the Filipino audience?
It started with a passion for sports. My dad and uncles chose the sports business because they were avid sportsmen. In the early years, they manned the selling floor, assisted customers, and even strung rackets. They loved helping people find the right gear and were willing to share their passion for sports. And that rubbed off on me as well since my dad taught me to play all kinds of sports growing up. I played pretty much everything but eventually excelled at Tennis, Football, and Baseball, which I played for UP in the UAAP.
Our passion for sports is something that we’ve always made sure is reflected in our merchandise selection, our product development, our marketing and CSR campaigns, and especially in our service. So I guess we could make a name for ourselves in sports because we have a passion for it and put our hearts into the business. Lastly, we were always looking for ways to get Filipinos to become more active and try out new sports, from tennis to billiards to badminton to running to fitness; whenever there was a new sport on the rise, we made sure to stock up on gear that could help people play and enjoy that sport. So we always try to innovate and stay ahead of the curve with our stores, services, and omnichannel initiatives.
Turning back to the early years of your brand, what has changed in how you do business? Considering the massive changes since 2019, what’s the one thing that massively changed for Toby’s Sports?
More people are shopping online, especially since the pandemic and lockdowns forced them to. But we expected this and have been working on our e-commerce business. We launched a re-vamped tobys.com in 2017 and urbanathletics.com.ph in 2018, and runnr.com.ph in 2020. We’re also working on finding ways to provide more convenience to our customers thru curbside pickup, chat and collect (thru Viber) and now click and collect. This will allow customers to get the exact gear they need from the nearest store as quickly as possible and save them on shipping fees.
This is what customers need and want, a seamless experience between our online and physical stores. We’re adopting our business model to adjust to these changing preferences.
Toby’s sports offers a wide selection of apparel and sporting goods. Can you tell us more about your role as one of Shoppable’s new sellers?
We’re excited to work with Shoppable because many teams, organizations, gov’t institutions, schools, and companies need sports gear regularly. And they probably need to buy items in bulk and get the best prices. Shoppable makes listing our prices easy and offers different discount tiers based on the quantity ordered. So it makes the wholesale shopping experience much easier and faster for customers. Plus, business owners will have a better and more transparent way to see that they are getting the best prices on their purchases. We’re looking forward to offering our wide range of branded sports gear and our affordable in-house brands that offer superior value for money for those looking for sports gear.
Your growing community, advocating for sports and health, promotes an active lifestyle among Filipinos. Are there any projects you’d like your audience to support?
As a company that operates 67 stores in cities and towns across the country, Toby’s Sports is proud to have championed sports and an active lifestyle for millions of Filipinos for the past 45 years. There is no question that sports are essential in developing our youth. That is why in 2000, we created Toby’s Youth Sports Foundation to make a difference in the lives of Filipino youth by providing opportunities for them to grow through sports, recreation, and fitness.
Increasing access to and participation in sports allows kids to become the best version of themselves by increasing their self-esteem, creating positive habits, and cultivating leadership skills. Although we have not been as active since the pandemic, we continue to partner with like-minded organizations in promoting grassroots programs, the most recent of which is the Liga Eskwela Futsal Festival 2023. We hope our audience and customers will help support these types of programs in any way possible.
What should the Filipino market be excited about from Toby’s Sports this year?
This year marks the 45th year we’ve been serving the Filipino market, and we’re excited to celebrate this milestone year with our customers from all over the country with various promotions, activations, innovations, and new store openings. We recently launched our ELITE Membership Program, which we encourage everyone to be a part of to enjoy amazing perks and discounts year-round.
We are also expanding our Click & Collect service to additional stores so more Filipinos can order online and pick up their orders from their nearest Toby’s Sports stores. We are opening branches in new locations to reach more Filipinos looking for the best sports and fitness gear, and we are continuously expanding our portfolio of categories, brands, and products to provide them with more choices.
Throughout these years of unwavering support from the Filipino audience, what message would you like to share?
Our mission is to help every Filipino become a champion thru sports and an active lifestyle. That’s been our commitment ever since we started. As we enter our 45th year in the business, that commitment is stronger than ever, and we hope that thru our people, products, and stores (both online and offline), we can continue to inspire and empower Filipinos to lead healthy, active lives.
We believe that sports and an active lifestyle are essential components of a happy and fulfilling life, and we are dedicated to providing the resources and support necessary to help our customers achieve their goals. Through our products and services, we strive to make sports and fitness more accessible and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their background or skill level.
Between Toby’s and Shoppable only, what products do you want to highlight?
We aim to offer sports and fitness products needed for the training and active engagement in physical activity of athletes and employees of various schools, teams, institutions, and companies.
Shoppable Business now works hand-in-hand with the Philippines’ leading multi-brand sports retailer – Toby’s Sports! With over 60 branches nationwide, Toby’s sports carries more than 100,000 items from 160+ trusted brands.
In the business for the last four decades, Toby’s Sports has continued to live Filipino sportsmanship and athleisure through its mission of inspiring more Filipinos to become extraordinary champions.
Stay tuned as Toby’s Sports will launch very soon at Shoppable Business!