by Tom Mulliez
I remember the first time I discovered Decathlon: my dad brought me into our local Decathlon store in Lille to get my first set of ice hockey gear. I was 12. We had been back in France (from the US) a few years at this point, and I was familiar with Decathlon, as everyone was, but I had never been myself. I was giddy with excitement about starting hockey, just like my dad. He had played professional hockey in France, and I was always so proud and inspired by his stories about trying out for the Olympics and the French National Team.
Walking into Decathlon reminded me of my one trip to Disneyland. Everywhere I looked, there were amazing products organized by sport. I had never seen so much outdoor and sporting equipment in one place - sports that I never knew existed (and suddenly wanted to try).
We were able to get the whole kit: skates, pants, pads, helmet, sticks, tape, jock strap and more in this one store. It was amazing. At checkout, I glanced worriedly at my dad, concerned about what the total might be. But I remember him just being happy to share this moment with me - and I guess he already knew about the affordable prices at Decathlon: everything was under $100.00! The best part was being on my way to play hockey right away, no other stops necessary: I was ready to go! From that moment, Decathlon would forever be my store, my brand and the company that I wanted to help be successful. I still play hockey every chance I get.
Years later, I have 3 kids of my own. I moved back to the US long ago, settled in Tampa, Florida. Decathlon didn’t exist in the US yet. I was always frustrated when I had to shop at other big retail outlets that only catered to basic sports, basic products and yet were priced so much higher. But then it happened: Decathlon came to the US. They landed in San Francisco, and I knew that I had to become a part of this amazing adventure. (Pictured: Tom and his family).
Lo and behold, I’m now working here and am currently in the process of moving my family to the Bay Area. And better yet, I get to introduce my 3 kids, (Olivia - 9, Emilie - 6 and Theo - 2) to my amazing company.
My first week on the job, I got by kids these amazing backpacks that were just $3.49, with a 10-year warranty! Three kids, three different colors. Theo wears his all the time, (unless he has his superman cape on). I also got them some soccer gear, a foldable ping pong net with rackets, and a set of paddle tennis rackets and balls (I didn’t even know what that was until I saw it too - Check it out!) They love it.
We’re working to get the full kids collection in the US this year. This will be a game changer for us parents out there. If you are like me, we spend a fortune on our kids, at the mercy of big brands, who know our kids are growing and need new gear. At Decathlon, things are different.
In France, Decathlon is everywhere, and I’m just so excited to have it here in the US for the first time so that my kids will be able to discover sports the way I did growing up.