Closed doors at outdoor store

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 08:09 20/03/2014
kendall riley
ALASTAIR PAULIN/FAIRFAX NZ
FINAL WHISTLE: Sport and outdoor retailer Kendall Riley is closing down Abel Tasman Outdoors after nine years in business.

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A key Motueka High St retailer is closing his doors, saying he can no longer compete against internet shopping and big box retailers.

Kendall Riley opened Abel Tasman Outdoors nine years ago and has spent 21 years in the sports and outdoors retail industry.

Four years ago he made a $50,000 investment in his business by shifting to larger premises on a higher foot traffic block of High St and despite the higher rent, said sales figures vindicated his decision in the first year.

But then the Christchurch earthquakes hit a key sector of his market, the summer regulars from Christchurch who would stock up on camping and sports gear for their Tasman holiday and the apple-picking backpacker market dried up.

Lack of trade meant he would be closing his doors this Saturday although, ironically, his closing-down sale has generated his busiest trading days since Christmas.

"We're gutted for the town and for our good loyal customers that we have to close," Mr Riley said.

Abel Tasman Outdoors focused on hunting, diving and fishing and won the Recreation and Lifestyle section of Top Shop awards in 2010.

Mr Riley said the tipping point for his shop came during the 2011 Rugby World Cup with publicity about the All Blacks shirt being much cheaper online than in retail stores.

"Until three years ago, people were too scared to shop online but that changed it. We saw the effect overnight."

Other factors affecting trade included chain retailers such as Kathmandu, Rebel Sports and Mac Pac, with seemingly endless sales, and Mr Riley said that even petrol prices above $2 a litre had not seemed to deter people from driving for better deals. He said the expansion of Richmond's retail sector, such as the recent announcement of a big-box retail centre in Lower Queen St, would see Motueka businesses hit harder.

He did not want to get into details about his lease for legal reasons but said Motueka needed to face the reality of increased competition.

"With the development that is going on in Richmond, it is time that Motueka landlords invested into their properties to try and stem the flow," he said.

Our Town Motueka chairman Dave Moloney said he did not think the store's closure was a sign of things to come and was not aware of any other impending closures..

He said the key for Motueka retailers responding to Richmond's growth was to ensure they had a point of difference, and that having an online presence was a way to counter internet retailers and the challenge of distance.

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