Iqaluit snowmobile shop closes its doors

Decision to shutter Sikitu Sales and Services was ‘gut wrenching,’ says Arctic Co-operatives VP Duane Wilson

Sikitu Sales and Services has closed after nearly 26 years of business. Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., which owned the business, says the closure was prompted by challenges posed by the pandemic, technological changes to recreational vehicles and a shift to online shopping for parts. (Photo by David Lochead)

By David Lochead

After nearly 26 years of business, Sikitu Sales and Services has closed.

The well-known Iqaluit business sold ATVs and snowmobiles, parts for those machines, and provided repair services.

Sikitu was a part of Arctic Co-operatives Ltd., and it was the Co-op board of directors who made the decision to close, said Arctic Co-operatives’ vice-president of stakeholder relations, Duane Wilson.

“There’s no doubt these decisions are gut-wrenching ones,” he said, given the importance of off-road vehicles for transportation and traditional lifestyles in the North.

The store’s closure on Monday was prompted by a mix of factors, Wilson said.

The COVID-19 pandemic played a significant part. Travel restrictions have bolstered demand for snowmobiles and ATVs, and manufacturing has not able to keep up with demand, Wilson said. As a result, it’s became more difficult to get snowmobiles and ATVs up north, he said.

Another factor was the technological advancement of recreational vehicles. With ATVs and snowmobiles becoming more computerized, Sikitu struggled to get staff with the electronic and computer skills needed for repairs.

“It requires a different skill set than it did 10 years ago to service and maintain these machines,” Wilson said.

The growing popularity of online shopping for parts also put a strain on Sikitu.

Before the rise in online shopping, Sikitu was intended to be a hub for delivering parts throughout the Baffin region. Now, Arctic Co-operatives has also pivoted to online business, creating Arctic Parts Direct two years ago to deliver vehicle parts to people throughout the North, Wilson said.

No staff from Sikitu will be losing their jobs, Wilson said. Instead, they will be redeployed to other roles in one of the other Iqaluit co-operatives.

Iqaluit resident Sam Tilley, 31, was a regular Sikitu customer.

“It was my favourite place to go to get loose ends of what I needed,” he said.

Tilley said he remembers going to Sikitu even as a child, where he would look at the snowmobiles in the store.

He said he was not surprised that Sikitu closed, as the business’s hours became limited after the first lockdown due to fewer mechanics being available to work.

With Sikitu now gone, Iqaluit residents have fewer places to go for small engine repairs. Tilley said there are two choices remaining – Combustion Performance Inc. and Northwest Motorsports – which he doesn’t believe is enough for a community of 8,000.

“We’re already struggling with garages being open for automobiles,” Tilley said.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Sad on

    Sad to see this store go.

    Especially sad for the many elders that rely on this store.

    I hope arctic cooperatives will highly consider opening more stores like this in hub locations across the region!

    Go to your coop board of directors and lobby for sikitu sales stores to open near you!

  2. Posted by pissed off on

    Smells like another Frobuild scenario.
    Run from afar , no care for the customer, no real involvement from the people running the place.

    Who will you turn to on Friday morning for your week-end outing????


    • Posted by Not really on

      It was not run from afar, there was a manager there in the store who also reported to another manager at the gas bar.
      These two guys hired mechanics who didn’t know what they were doing, pissing off people with their crappy work.
      Problem with ACL was hiring these guys to manage it.
      It was so much better when Jeff and Eddie were there, they needed to find better qualified managers/ mechanics to run the place.

  3. Posted by andy on

    Another victim of the pandemic. Sad to hear.

    However, here is a great job/business opportunity. There is lots of support available and Iqaluit need more small engine repair shops…good ones.

    • Posted by Larry on

      Try opening and running a business in Nunavut impossible,if ACL cannot do it good luck, the old days are over people from the south will not come up here and work for nothing anymore too expensive and the locals will not train sad reality happening all over Nunavut

      • Posted by Bad Customer Service on

        So many business in Nunavut have terrible customer service because there is no competition! Sikitu in the past 2 years had no one to do warranty work, did not follow up or communicate with the customer the status or what was going on, and was overall dismissive and not helpful. I had bought a machine there and could not get warranty work done, gave up sold the machine at a loss and went to the NWC Motorsport Store. The NWC Motorsport staff have been great with communicating and calling to tell me what’s wrong and what they fixed, and have a fair number of common parts in stock!

        I believe it was the competition that this store providing better customer service and maybe that of Combustion ( I am not a customer so can’t speak from experience) that put Sikitu out of business. As competition comes in you can’t treat customers like take it or leave it when your not the only shop in town. Treat people well and tell them what’s going on and you will have no problem staying in business!

  4. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Bought a snowmachine and two ATVs from Sikitu and they always provided
    excellent timely service for us, Sad to see them go. Thanks, Chris and staff for the time. Hope all goes well for each of you.


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