I’ve never been to Japan, so I live vicariously through second-hand or even third-hand accounts of how things actually are. Anytime I find myself reading about a Japanese shop, it’s always presented as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. People often comment that if it wasn’t for the sign on the building or some cars parked outside, a legendary shop could be overlooked. This thought quickly entered my mind on my first trip to Odd Man Out Performance. And just as quickly as the thought entered my head, it left. There’s no mistaking the back roads of Regina for Japan; one glance in any direction and you’re quickly reminded you are in the land of the living skies. It doesn’t get more prairie than passing a tractor/heavy equipment dealer on your way to the shop.
Tucked away near a metal scrap-yard and an auto salvage yard, I found a building still waiting to be marked by a sign. However, the abundance of Subarus and other scattered cars throughout the parking lot let me know I’d come to the right place: Saskatchewan’s own Odd Man Out Performance. (Update: Since this story was written, the shop has added a sign).
It was just on the cusp of Odd Man Out’s first anniversary when I finally paid them my first visit. It seems odd it took me so long because I’m regularly chatting with Jessie-Joe Curtis, one of the owners. But this wasn’t just a social call; I was there as a customer. My Toyota Celsior needed some work and I decided to follow some of the advice I so often dole out to others and visit the crew at Odd Man Out. (Another update: I’ve since sold my Celsior.)
As of June 2, Odd Man Out’s hours will be 10AM – 7:00PM, Monday through Friday. But at the time of my visit, they were still working on limited hours. This meant they’d work all day at full time jobs, and then spend their weeknights and weekends at the shop working on customers’ cars. It really demonstrates the commitment these guys have to the cause and that they genuinely enjoy what they do. It’s also easy to see why they want to spend so much time out there; it’s where their passion for cars is fueled. When I visited, numerous guests stopped by just to say “Hello.”
Odd Man Out was founded by three individuals: the aforementioned Jessie-Joe, Matt Reed and Neil Harkness. Jessie-Joe can usually be found at the front of the shop. When I was there, the other two thirds of the ownership team could be found in the shop, grinding away. Matt was hidden away under this WRX.
If you didn’t know it before, you now know that Odd Man Out loves Subarus. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a tastefully modified Subaru in Regina without an Odd Man Out sticker. But don’t be fooled; they aren’t exclusively Subaru, hence my visit to their shop.
So, why did I think of Japan on my way out to the shop? Why did I feel nostalgic for something I know nothing about it? I thought about this for a while. It occurred to me that whenever I read those articles about little unmarked shops in Japan, one theme emerges: these shops were all born out of passion and succeed through commitment. Although this is only the first chapter in a hopefully long book about Odd Man Out, I can honestly say that it’s those very ideals that founded Odd Man Out. When I visited their shop, I saw three guys working more hours than any one person should work in a day, but they didn’t complain – not even once. It was obvious those three gentleman sincerely wanted to be there and make it all work. You might be thinking this isn’t an uncommon thing for shops, but it’s been a long time since we’ve had something like this in Regina. I left Odd Man Out with renewed sense of faith in the Regina automotive scene, knowing there are people out there who want to see it succeed and believe in it enough to start something as unique as this.
On June 8, Odd Man Out Perfmance will be holding a Show’N’Shine at their shop. I urge you to shine up your car and pay these dudes a visit.