/ Another real climbers' shop closes
So if you're lucky enough to still have a local climbing shop I'd suggest USE IT OR LOSE IT. Or am I still living in the twentieth century?
It amuses and saddens me the lengths people.go to to.save
10 on there rock shoes.
Think youve got a really good point about support local small outdoor shops, and I was too saddened when I saw the shop empty last week. Am sure online shopping did play a big part to play, but also location off the high street which plays a big role in Ambleside, and that it used to be known under a different name that still operates also had a part to play.
Sad times, like you say use them or loose them.
Was in there just before christmas and have to agree that its terribly sad had a great chat although didn't buy anything.
Have to wonder if the area is just over saturated for the business available.
I haven't been to Ambleside for a while but I'm sure there'll always be a shop to buy climbing gear from. It seems like the main problem is with the chain stores saturating the market.
However, must say that some shops dont do themselves justice. Some shops dont carry enough lines to cater for the Non Climbing market, which I would imagine is where the money lies.
I see shops like The Epicentre doing very well, and all credit to Woody, he has positioned the shop really well. It carries good bargains for both climbers and non climbing folk. There is specialist gear for climbers, but also well priced Wet Weather gear for the day tripper looking to spend some cash on that new Northface jacket which makes them feel like an Everest summiteer whilst they get the train from Kent into the City each day.
So, sad? yes of course, but are people loike Woody evolving with the Market? yes they are, and we will therefore always have some good shops with knowledge to tap into....
Slow down there horsey, climbers are not tight fisted and selfish. It is very sad when a company or small business goes bust and the hopes, dreams and financial security of the small business die.
But are climbers to blame for all the other companies that have gone bust or will go bust in the coming years such as HMV, Woolworths, Jessops and others?
Yes the internet, showrooming and internet purchases have a lot to answer for with the demise of small and large retailers. But councils also have a part to play with how much they charge rent. At what point will councils think, we better be realistic with business rent/rates, when all the shops are empty or sooner.
Personally, I think that the Showroom Shoppers need to take a long hard look at themselves and what they are doing. Such people who walk into a small/specialised retailer to get a feel for the goods and then walk out knowing full well that they are going to buy over the web for the sake of a few quid are the ones that should feel guilty.
It was also an online business.
I'll use the cafe whenever I'm in Ambleside. Excellent cooked vege breakfast from lovely friendly people.
Our local shops are a Go Outdoors and a Cotswolds. The staff in Cotswolds do at least seem to have some first hand knowledge of the activities we are talking about, albeit prety superficial. Go Outdoors staff (presumably because of the the range of stuff they carry from fishing and equestrian thro to climbing) can be a bit more (OK sometimes a lot more) sketchy. Last week we dropped into Needlesports and oh the pleasure of talking to staff who knew exactly what they were talking about and could advise on the pros and cons of different bits of kit. AS we left, after buying two things we neeed, I turned to Mrs C and said: "Now THAT'S a climbing shop!" Long may it prosper.
Well I'm relieved that the Cafe is still open - not been to the lakes for well over a decade or more and I wanted to try them on my next visit.
The problem with the bricks and mortar stores is their huge overhead - staff, location, etc. While I use mail order - I'll support a bricks and mortar place whenever I can; i.e. when it's accessible.
From speaking to others heavily involved in other niche, individualistic activities (eg cycling and surfing) I believe we are tight fisted. Witness the dozens of threads every year about avoiding the use of huts in the alps. The bivvying is only an option cause the huts are a bail out and the paths/cable cars are amazing but we begrudge £8 quid or so and shit all over the place....
From a personal perspective, when I started climbing I was on a very low income and when I went abroad I was on an exceptionally tight budget. This did not mean that I was tight fisted, it just meant that I was skint and and trying to live the dream on a modest budget.
> It was also an online business.
I was in the "GAME" shop over the weekend, which had survived or been bought out after it went bust last year. I don't think this retailer will be around for very long either. :-(
While in the shop I saw a DVD box of Crysis 3 for download only priced at £39-99. Fair enough as I'm getting a code to download the game, but a couple of shelves away I saw the same game in a DVD box where you actually got the game on a DVD disk priced at £29-99. The download was £10 dearer which was a bit stupid.
I'm sure you're right.
I and every other skater I've known would only buy from an s.o.s (skater owned shop) as they really are an integral part of that community.
Tbh I think go outdoors style price matching is disgusting too where they are willing to sell at a loss to keep trade away from alternative retailers.
I've never understood why independent shop loyalty isn't more important in climbing, places like outside in Hathersage or the barn in wAsdale can prove to be invaluable if you're climbing and you've left a vital piece if kit at home.
So what am I? I am not supporting my "local" shops (Tiso) does that make me selfish? Or am I supporting Needlesports?
and what about those who just buy online without going near a real shop?
Should those feel really really guilty then?
OP: That's a shame, it was my no.2 go-to shop after Needle Sports. The skateboarder ref seems spot on. Putting on my cobwebby rose tinted specs, back in the day, while we were all skint and after a bargain and that, there was a certain element of an unspoken ethos to buy from shops owned by folk you knew or who were fellow mountaineers rather than just businessmen. A symptom of the culture change in climbing.
Whereas under Socialism, capital is concentrated in the hands of the State. Given a choice, I'll stick with Needlesports if you don't mind ;-)
I strongly agree that it's better to buy in store if possible especially if you've been getting advice or trying boots etc. or we'll end up with no real shops .I think there used to be 3 climbing shops in Sheffield in the 80's including Tanky's and Don Morrisons but they closed before the advent of internet shopping.
I agree it's a real shame. I was in there a month or so ago (was visting when all the snow fell) and I did buy. I also bought some inov8's there last year. I agree it's been tainted perhaps by both a) being off the main street and b) rock + run still existing.
I think that climbing shops can continue IF we the climbing community support them. As it happens, I agree that climbers *tend* to be tightwads. Just look at all the people on UKC asking for the return of a no.5 wallnut, avoiding paying for this and that, complaining at climbing wall prices etc. I was going to make some cheap gag about these people probably being the same ones (apparently the majority of UKC) who want to dance on Thatchers grave but I'll resist ;)
Personally I make sure I buy my gear from the independents, whether that be the nearby ones (not many), when I'm on hols, or on-line thro their websites. I was in V12 on sunday morning (rain!) and, rather than just mooch and pass some time without spending, bought some relatively inexpensive gear because I'd hate to find they weren't there next time I was there and was looking more seriously.
I wonder if outdoors shops would make more money by selling stuff cheaper or giving bigger discounts for loyalty card holders. Lower prices would mean less profit per item sold but hopefully it would also lead to an increase in sales.
There's a small Rock & Run at one of the climbing walls here in Birmingham (Redpoint). I suspect they don't pay much in rent. It's a small shop but has the best selection of shoes out of all the shops that sell climbing gear in Birmingham (the others being Cotswold, Snow & Rock, Go Outdoors and a small shop at the other climbing wall, Creation).
Having a good range is important. The shop at Creation sees very little traffic in part due to a very limited range.
Places like V12, Joe Browns, Outside or Needle Sports are great but I'm not going to go to Llanberis, Hathersage or Keswick every time I need to buy a couple of crabs or a new pair of shoes. If I happen to be in the area when I need something and I've got time (i.e. if the weather is poor), I will drop in. Otherwise I'll go to one of my local shops in Birmingham (but not Go Outdoors, they're only good for cheap trousers and base layers). The alternative is online, in which case I use Needle Sports as they carry a good range and provide an efficient online service.
I work in an outdoor retailer, and the amount of people that come in, try on then get straight on the iphone to google the cheapest price is shocking!
I've even had people bring items to the till, confirm the price then stand there googling to make sure they cant get it off amazon for less !
I think you will find it's Rock On.
Anyway, I agree and bought two pairs of rock shoes there a couple of weeks back. They were great with advice and post sales changing one pair as I'd got the sizing wrong.
Perfect example of why it's best to buy from a shop, and preferably local.
Don't be ridiculous. Of course it's not selfish to shop around for the cheapest price or to try to get the most out of a day's climbing. It is quite silly to get all misty eyed about shops which have failed to compete in price and service. Yes, a shame for employees, but there will always be casualties if businesses fail to evolve and offer customers what they want.
Absurd. If huts offered a service I needed at a reasonable price I would use them; they usually don't.
Nonsense. I'd much prefer the huts not to be there.
Ah yes, it's Rock On.
I agree, shops have to evolve. They need to have better trained, more passionate staff, exclusive product lines, loyalty cards, gear preview nights, better websites... the list goes on. In the medium to long term, retailers that don't come up with a way of differentiating themselves from the e-trailers and don't move with the times will struggle and could die. Look at the carnage on the high street, starting with Woolworths a few years back. Amazingly, some businesses still don't get it!
And, there, I think you just proved your own selfishness. For 99% of alpine climbers, skiiers and walkers, huts are both a necessary and reasonable value resource.
One of the Rock + Run peeps once commented as such, that the outdoor trade was turning towards chains of bigger outdoor shops.
> I work in an outdoor retailer, and the amount of people that come in, try on then get straight on the iphone to google the cheapest price is shocking!
> I've even had people bring items to the till, confirm the price then stand there googling to make sure they cant get it off amazon for less !
Could you start offering occasional people a brew or something, or 'happen to have' a packet of biccies and offer them one? Certainly as a teenager, similar friendliness went down really well if I was in a climbing shop or at a climbing wall.
To be honest, I'm not fussed about helping independents per se. Everything else being equal (which is actually the important bit of the equation here), ultimately all you really do is line the pockets of the owner. The everything else being equal part is that, I'd happily buy from the chains if they carried a wide range of stock and employed people who know what they're talking about. The problem is that the chains don't do that, by and large. So I do support the specialist independents as the bets option taking the wider view, even if it does slightly hit my wallet.
Ok, but this is a completely separate argument to absurd notion that I should pay over the odds for something I don't need or want. The debate about whether building infrastructure in the mountains which encourages more people to go there by making things easier for them but, arguably, degrades the experience, is quite different.
>I was trying to think of a way Petargh might promt people to go back to the shop he works in really, for 'the shopping experience' as it were.
You mean that climbing gear that you do need/want but don't want to pay more than on-line prices for. The climbing gear that is maybe 10% (?) cheaper on-line.
Do you tip in restaurants?
If so, why won't you pay 10% more for all the advantages of buying in a shop, trying on, advice, ease of returns etc. Isn't that worth the equivalent of a tip in a restaurant? For the hobby that you are so passionate about...
Completely agree. The indies have to realise (if they don't already) they need to earn their status of specialist retailers of choice. I abandoned one of the indies mentioned above for that very reason as it happens.
> You mean that climbing gear that you do need/want but don't want to pay more than on-line prices for. The climbing gear that is maybe 10% (?) cheaper on-line.
> Do you tip in restaurants?
> If so, why won't you pay 10% more for all the advantages of buying in a shop, trying on, advice, ease of returns etc. Isn't that worth the equivalent of a tip in a restaurant? For the hobby that you are so passionate about...
I think he was talking about huts?
> If so, why won't you pay 10% more for all the advantages of buying in a shop, trying on, advice, ease of returns etc. Isn't that worth the equivalent of a tip in a restaurant? For the hobby that you are so passionate about...
Thats easy to say here, but harder to say to a customer in the shop. Try asking for 10% BMC discount at Tescos and see how far it gets you! The culture of giving money off outdoor gear is part of the issue.
> The culture of giving money off outdoor gear is part of the issue.
Tea and biccies...
Perhaps i'm just easily pleased, but i'd pay more than the web price for good advice while i'm offered a biscuit to eat. Seriously, become known for having a tin of biscuits onhand.
I guess crumbs could become a problem. (:-))
Maybe you could hide a gift voucher in the pocket of random jackets... and you're not allowed to check til you buy it! :)
EMS? Linky please?
I suspect in Robert's case he will probably just stick with Soylent Green.
> I think he was talking about huts?
> If so, why won't you pay 10% more for all the advantages of buying in a shop, trying on, advice, ease of returns etc.
I will if the service seems worth the price (such as the opportunity to try on boots), but when I know what I want, I buy online if it is cheaper. I really don't know what all the fuss is about; shops, online or not, are just a medium for getting stuff from manufacture to customer - nothing to get all worked up about and not some mystical part of climbing culture to be preserved.
> I suspect the answer to that is no.
Wrong. I do tip in restaurants. I don't see the connection with shopping around for the cheapest price.
That's capitalism - survival of the fittest. I go to the cheapest usually online. Anyone who goes tits up is guilty of not anticipating and moving with the times.
If Rohan is going strong while climbing independents close down, it tells you exactly what sort of customer is plodding the streets in Ambleside.
Independent retailers (whatever they're selling) can rarely survive with a shop alone. Successful businesses understand that prosperity demands a multi-channel approach:
To a degree, if every independent took this approach it wouldn't matter so much if a customer checked out a product in shop A but bought from (independent) shop B online. So long as there are also other people looking in shop B and buying from shop A online.
I think you're barking up the wrong tree here. Aren't there a few climbing shops in Ambleside, one of which opened within the last few years?
It isn't possible to run a shop with a physical presence which offers good advice and the opportunity to try things on, and compete successfully on price alone against a website with none of those costs.
If you go into a shop to seek advice, try on clothes/shoes or whatever, determine exactly what you want and then go away again and order it online from the cheapest supplier you can find, you need a slap imo.
You're no better than the person who goes out for dinner with a group, orders a bottle of wine and three desserts and then quibbles over how you split the bill.
You're using a service and then refusing to pay for it on the grounds that nobody is forcing you to. This "survival of the fittest" thing is pure "me first" selfish bullshit.
Yeah, the shops that have strong online sides as well seem to be surviving (touch wood)...
The other style of shop that seems to do okay is the brand-owned shop - TNF, Patagucci etc. Presumably partly because they appeal to the more-money-than-sense "outdoor fashion" market rather than skinflint climbers, but also because it matters a lot less to them if people check stuff out in the shop and then buy online, since they manufacturer gets a sale anyway...
Also shops at walls, don't need to rent a full sized shop unit just to stock a bunch of shoes, and which are actually convenient to use since they're open when you go to the wall and you don't have to schlep into town during the day to get something.
> 10 on there rock shoes.
Just because £10 doesn't amount to much to you, doesn't mean it's not significant to someone else. It's relative (of course) to one's personal circumstances. Imagine a climber who really needs a new pair of half ropes, but simply can't afford to support an independent climbing shop as a matter of principle when they can save £50 or more by buying online.
I wonder if another way that things might go is highstreet shops in places like Ambleside with high footfall but low sales actually charging the manufacturers to stock their stuff, on the grounds that it's effectively advertising and a fitting service, and people can then go home and buy directly from the manufacturer if they want to.
Regarding personal service, I break things a lot, Needlesports is the only place I have had problems returning something.
Places like Tisots can offer good discounts due to the volume they sell. I just bought some touring skis for less than half price and got a further discount for using the loyalty card.
I did like the old Rock and Run, mainly for Rick's encyclopaedic knowledge and who always had time to talk, and give a good discount.
I am not in the business of keeping anybody's shop going nor do I like being ripped off, I buy books and maps on line, and pay as little as possible for gear which doesn't last me long anyway. I would rather subsidise my climbing trips than the climbing shop owners.
> If you go into a shop to seek advice, try on clothes/shoes or whatever, determine exactly what you want and then go away again and order it online from the cheapest supplier you can find, you need a slap imo.
Probably true. Personally I don't set out do that - I never said I did.
Some people may do this, but please don't accuse me.
The survival of the fittest thing is about the survival of the shop which offers the best combination of price and service. Nothing to do with abusing a shop's service. Going to the cheapest shop is not selfish. Shops are not charities.
I don't think that climbers are tighter than any other group of consumers either. I'd like to see any actual evidence of this. I shop around for EVERYTHING, from car parts to trainers, not just climbing gear. Most people I know do the same.
I never said you said you did.
Perhaps I should have phrased it more like "If one does this <blah blah blah> then one is an utter fud."
Lots of folk do it (that's why Jessops went bump). Glad to hear you're not one of them.
Indeed, and I didn't suggest otherwise.
But going to a bricks & mortar shop for advice, trying on half their stock and then hitting up Google for the cheapest place online to actually buy does indeed qualify one for a well deserved slap in the face with an ethically sourced wet fish imo
Oh, and regarding "survival of the fittest":
Just my prejudice perhaps, but it's often been my experience that when people use that actual phrase they are indeed being a selfish arse.
> Wrong. I do tip in restaurants. I don't see the connection with shopping around for the cheapest price.
It seemed to fit with the persona you promote on here.
This is sad news, I hope the premises can resurrect as a climbing shop in the future. If you need proper climbing gear in Ambleside then this was actually one of only 3 or 4 places to get it, out of god knows how many other general outdoor shops. The fact that the other shops continue to do well (?) is presumably down to the fact that they also cater well for the general outdoors punters and walkers, a much higher volume market. Many visitors to Ambleside seem to get togged-up to the nines (including gaiters) just to visit the shops.
But let's not pretend climbers in general have a responsibility to subsidise shops by paying over the odds (this is no reference to the shop in question). Money is tight. That said, and all things being equal, I know I'd go out of my way to visit a specialist independent with my cash and would hope others would too.
Long live the cafe.
There's a lot of people around who shop that way. It's not illegal, and presumably they're able to reconcile it with their personal codes of ethics, so your disapproval is probably of no consequence to them whatever (until you start the wet fish slapping, of course, at which point you'll likely find yourself up on an assault charge).
> There's a lot of people around who shop that way. It's not illegal, and presumably they're able to reconcile it with their personal codes of ethics, so your disapproval is probably of no consequence to them whatever
That doesn't make them not selfish twunts, though...
> There's a lot of people around who shop that way. It's not illegal, and presumably they're able to reconcile it with their personal codes of ethics, so your disapproval is probably of no consequence to them whatever (until you start the wet fish slapping, of course, at which point you'll likely find yourself up on an assault charge).
Surely the cost involved of travelling to the retailer, getting lunch or paying for weekend accommodation in Ambleside for example negates any saving that could be made online?
It's so frustrating when serving a customer who seems really keen on a piece of gear and you're having decent banter with for them then to drop the old "Not looking at buying today just getting and idea of whats around" (Im getting this off amazon later mate, cheers for your explanation of how it all works and helping me decide though!).
If there was no culture of discount in the outdoor clothing industry then there would be no problem, Like I said earlier in the thread, can anyone honestly tell me a piece of outdoor gear they payed full price for ?
> If there was no culture of discount in the outdoor clothing industry then there would be no problem, Like I said earlier in the thread, can anyone honestly tell me a piece of outdoor gear they payed full price for ?
I turned down a freely offerred discount at a local store on a pair of rock boots. I was very happy with the service I'd been given by the owner/ salesman.
But always ask Cotswold for my 20% discount.
In the long run, as someone else pointed out, 'survival' will go to the fittest, which is the one that can make a good return. Sadly (as all other things being equal we'd probably rather keep individual climbing enthusiasts in buisness) in the outdoor retail world, this seems to be going to the 'mega-shed' or the online retailer. C'est la Vie.
> Surely the cost involved of travelling to the retailer, getting lunch or paying for weekend accommodation in Ambleside for example negates any saving that could be made online?
As I said, there are people who shop that way, but there are many other possible reasons why someone visiting a shop doesn't want to buy that day - there is such a thing as window shopping with a genuine desire to "just get an idea of what's around". Or maybe just to kill some time - rained off at a crag, perhaps.
Cheap gear online has become commonplace, and the difference between the "discounted" and the "full" price is often quite large. I think many customers these days perceive online prices as "normal" and shop prices as "marked-up" or "inflated".
I have absolutely no idea why I would come across as a person who wouldn't tip in a restaurant. I am very happy to pay for good service whether in a restaurant (though I very rarely consider restaurants worth the money in general)or when it is worth paying more than online for service such as boot fitting in a gear shop. The Solyent Green thing baffles me - no idea what you're on about.
> Maybe you could hide a gift voucher in the pocket of random jackets... and you're not allowed to check til you buy it! :)
After they've got fat you start a cross country running shoes corner and a range of books on getting fit for climbing. It's part of a cunning plan. (;-))
Ahahaha...another one of the establishment being smart
You have to love good old UKC.
Do I simply restate or put a twist on it or change tack entirely or just call you a twunt. I'll go for the twist.
The connection is that you are paying for a service. In a restaurant you pay very directly for service. In a specialist retailer you pay for advice, trying on (perhaps most imporantly) and understanding of your position as an outdoors enthusiast (returns policy etrc). I would and am happy to pay 10% extra for that service.
Do you get that?
> Do I simply restate or put a twist on it or change tack entirely or just call you a twunt. I'll go for the twist.
> The connection is that you are paying for a service. In a restaurant you pay very directly for service. In a specialist retailer you pay for advice, trying on (perhaps most imporantly) and understanding of your position as an outdoors enthusiast (returns policy etrc). I would and am happy to pay 10% extra for that service.
> Do you get that?
Of course I get it and I have no idea why you should imagine I don't.
If I use a service I pay for it (as in a gear shop or restaurant) and if I don't need the service I don't pay for it (as in shopping online or eating a takeaway). There is therefore absolutely no reason for anyone to suspect that I don't tip in restaurants just because I sometimes shop online (or eat takeaways).
Do you get that? Or maybe I should just have been done with it and called you a "twunt". It regularly astonishes me how some people choose to read things into posts on here without any justification whatsoever. Probably just a bit dim.
I've been advised recently by three separate people to go into Complete Runner to get fitted for running shoes and then leave saying you want to think about it. Whichever way you want to convince yourself otherwise that's deceitful (some people will still convince themselves it's not wrong- see thread about changing yourself)
> Ok, but this is a completely separate argument to absurd notion that I should pay over the odds for something I don't need or want. The debate about whether building infrastructure in the mountains which encourages more people to go there by making things easier for them but, arguably, degrades the experience, is quite different.
Yeah my Alpine experience is really degraded when I can get a good night's sleep after a hearty meal in a nice hut. Especially when ski touring in March/April.
I've used huts and I've bivvied (only in the summer though). It's nice to have a choice.
As for gear, the best way to save money is to make it last a long time by looking after it and repairing where possible (obviously repairing doesn't work with most hardware, ropes and harnesses but most other stuff can be patched up). And not buying stuff unless you really need it and will use it! In the long run this approach will save a lot more than the online discounts.
> Thats easy to say here, but harder to say to a customer in the shop. Try asking for 10% BMC discount at Tescos and see how far it gets you! The culture of giving money off outdoor gear is part of the issue.
Yes but you have to compete with the other retailers that do offer a discount. Or you will go bust, simples! You can compete on price or other unique selling points, which could be knowledgeable staff. But price will still be a factor and can't be ignored, especially in the iPhone age. Also, people know that there is a massive mark up on most clothing and gear. I haven't seen an outdoor shop's P&L but I doubt you'd be selling at a loss even with a 25% discount. Obviously there are still fixed costs to cover like rent and staff but that can be done by increasing turnover at the expense of margin. If you dropped RRPs by 25% across the board and advertised that, I bet your turnover would rocket. I don't know if the maths would work but you have to try to find out... I suspect most shops (independents and chains) are just too set in their ways and not adventurous enough. Well, it's a changing world out there and those who don't evolve will die...
> It's so frustrating when serving a customer who seems really keen on a piece of gear and you're having decent banter with for them then to drop the old "Not looking at buying today just getting and idea of whats around" (Im getting this off amazon later mate, cheers for your explanation of how it all works and helping me decide though!).
So offer them a 'special' 20% discount, 'just for today', or whatever discount you can offer that will still leave you with a reasonable gross profit and hence a contribution towards covering the operating costs. Not as good as selling at full price but surely better than no sale at all, plus they might come back!
If everyone charged the same price, then people will buy from their local shop, or where they feel they get the best service.
There are plenty of good deals already in local climbing shops. Does any regular customer here say they can't negotiate a discount?. Most people trying climbing stuff on in a shop to ensure a good fit and getting good advice from the assistants, then deliberatly buying the exact same thing cheaper on the web are frankly parasites. I've met good keen climbers who are genuinely broke but most climbers claiming affordability issues are doing stuff like driving to crags in a car and drinking regularly in pub and so I think they are full of bs. There is no law against being a parasite but don't expect other community spirited climbers to think of you as anything else. I've nothing against bargains and internet shopping, just people taking advantage of the service the local shops do provide.
Still, price seems to be everything these days and who doesn't want low prices?
> Still, price seems to be everything these days and who doesn't want low prices?
Obviously people want low prices, but people also want to be able to buy gear and if everyone goes out of business they will not be able to do so. Presumably an equilibrium will be reached where people will be able to buy the gear they want at prices they are prepared to pay. I don't think there is any great mystery to it.
I've been thinking about this some more, and a conversation I had this weekend with a climbing partner. We both commented on the huge increase in the prices of climbing and outdoor clothing that seems to have happened lately. We are both looking at hiking boots and won't buy those online (unless I found the same as I already have with 50% off).
Anyway, I also do other sports, assist with coaching, run, bike etc. You can buy cheaper gear that performs very well. Just don't buy it in climbing shops! The market for sports apparel is far more competitive than climbing so the cost of gear is much, much cheaper.
Example 1: Base layer. Long sleeve wicking base layer from Sports Direct £9. Short sleeve from Reebok (on sale) £5. No need to spend ££40 on one from RAB or ME etc. I have a £50 ls baselayer top AND you can't convince me it performs any differently to the £9 one I have now.
Example 2: Hats. £15 for a ME beenie. £2 for a plain blue or black one from the local market or petrol station. You can even get a thinsulate lined one for £2 if you look hard enough.
Example 3: "Approach shoes" £100. Let's face it, most of us want to walk to the crag and back in them and then put rock shoes on. No need for approach shoes. I wear trainers £30.
I wonder how many of our buying decisions are based on fashion or having the latest gear to look good at the crag? Walking to the crag in a pair of £30 Nike trainers and climbing a a pair of £4 Tesco shorts and a £5 Reebok wicking t-shirt doesn't make me "look like a climber/boulderer" but the £120 I've saved paid for my diesel, or can be put towards getting fitted out with new hiking boots at Cotswolds (my local climbing store).
Should I spend that extra £120 on clothing at a climbing shop so it is there for the day I need specialist advice? No, because I can't afford to and would have to quit climbing. I bought my running trainers direct from the New Balance store, including gait analysis and fitting, for £40. Imagine the price of that in an outdoor or climbing shop...
Step back from the snobbery and the advertising and open up a whole world of cost saving!
Martin's money saving tips for the day.
There can't be many pairs of Nikes of any type that cost only 30 quid full price, so I imagine that's an on sale price. Well I've bought various pairs of "approach shoes" for similar amounts in sales. Some of the best outdoor shoes I own are some Salomon super light boots that I found in TK Maxx for something like 30 quid.
BTW to anyone who knows, was "Facewest" originally a normal shop? Their website says they are web only, but I had a feeling they originated from a shop. Wondering if they followed the same sort path as Rock and Run: shop; shop + webshop; webshop only?
> I wonder how many of our buying decisions are based on fashion or having the latest gear to look good at the crag? Walking to the crag in a pair of £30 Nike trainers and climbing a a pair of £4 Tesco shorts and a £5 Reebok wicking t-shirt doesn't make me "look like a climber/boulderer" but the £120 I've saved paid for my diesel, or can be put towards getting fitted out with new hiking boots at Cotswolds (my local climbing store).
Spot on. People don't even realise that the 'climbing trousers' they buy are totally crap for climbing in compared with something cheap like ronhills. Everyone seems to want to look like a guide. It's just fashion and pretty rubbish fashion at that.
Don't get prana. Buy a mole-skin suit and wear ronhills insted.
Frankie's money-saving tip of the day.
You are right Frankie... if only Ronhills were available in bright colours!
With the greatest respect I'm afraid you have no idea what you're talking about! The mark up on climbing gear is certainly not 'massive'. Even if you could afford to knock 25% off RRP (you don't drop RRP) across the board i'm pretty sure nobody would supply you and you would go bust sharpish!
> BTW to anyone who knows, was "Facewest" originally a normal shop? Their website says they are web only, but I had a feeling they originated from a shop. Wondering if they followed the same sort path as Rock and Run: shop; shop + webshop; webshop only?
As far as I know, Guiseley's finest has always been web only.
> Also, people know that there is a massive mark up on most clothing and gear. I haven't seen an outdoor shop's P&L but I doubt you'd be selling at a loss even with a 25% discount. Obviously there are still fixed costs to cover like rent and staff but that can be done by increasing turnover at the expense of margin. If you dropped RRPs by 25% across the board and advertised that, I bet your turnover would rocket. I don't know if the maths would work but you have to try to find out... I suspect most shops (independents and chains) are just too set in their ways and not adventurous enough. Well, it's a changing world out there and those who don't evolve will die...
> With the greatest respect I'm afraid you have no idea what you're talking about! The mark up on climbing gear is certainly not 'massive'. Even if you could afford to knock 25% off RRP (you don't drop RRP) across the board i'm pretty sure nobody would supply you and you would go bust sharpish!
The mark-up on technical gear is mediocre for such a specialist product made to such high standards. No-one got rich just selling hardwear.
Clothing mark-up on the other hand...
My money saving tips for the day:
1) If you ever see your prefered choice of rock boot cheap, buy at least five pairs. If they stop making them (and they probably will do so tomorrow) you'll spend several years and silly amounts of money finding anything anywhere near as good.
2) Have a hierarchy of activities and gear with wearing out stuff getting passed down the chain. eg the tatty rucksack and belay jacket I used for serious mountaineering in the late eighties are now consigned to wall use and near road cragging and the base years for serious use five years ago are now used for running and summer hill-walking. It's amazing the amount of expensive state of the art rucksacks ("developed by our athletes for the ultumate in state of the art super-light superalpinism") I see at the climbing wall. And remember that super-light stuff is usually also super-fastwearing.
3) Avoid all the overpriced designer clothing (Prans, Moon etc.) unless you actually want to look like a gullible fashion victim. There is always a much cheaper and probably more functional alternative. My £5 marks and Spencer pyjama shorts are the best functional cragging shorts I've ever had (and the fact that they also look dead cool is just a bonus).
Clothing mark up in the outdoor industry is still very small
Its the same with a lot of clothing goods, once you put a label on it you can charge foolish amounts (look at football strips, a premier league club changes strips on a regular basis, the latest must have strip costs a fortune, the old one finds itself worth very little. The material being used probably hasn't changed just the demand for it.) I recently bought a merino wool jumper from the high street chain H&M. Granted its a V neck, but it is made from 100% merino wool and therefore one would assume it has the same wicking and non smelling characteristics of those lovely offerings from Smartwool. The difference though is that my jumper cost £10 not £100. It doesn't have a zip neck nor an outdoor designer label, but for the money it works.
I am always amazed by the number of styles of waterproof jackets that are on the market today. Each manufacturer claiming some miraculous benefit of wearing their garment over all others, yet they tend to all be made from the same nylon based material. Not only that but the styles and colours change almost a quickly as the regular high street fashion houses.
Is it because as consumers we want to be seen in the latest colours with the latest styles regardless of the cost both financially and ethically.
Again refering to Patagonia, their ethos is on buying garments out of necessity and with an emphasis on making them last longer. This may not be good for the bricks and mortar shop in terms of reduced sales, but we have to get away from the culture of 'buy , wear for a season, bin'.
I have climbed and walked in the hills for over thirty years. When I started I made do with cheap kit and made what I couldn't afford. The kit still worked. How often did we see climbers and mountaineers with clothing repaired with gaffa tape. Those repairs were not just temporary ones either, some clothing items went years with patches of tape. I rarely ever see anything like that out on the hill now, just the latest colours and styles.
Take mountaineering boots. There are many threads on UKC from people wanting recommendations for replacement boots. Why? Have the soles worn out on their old ones? have they considered repair? No its easier to go out and buy a new pair and bin the old ones. I would question how people can go through a pair of well made mountaineering boots in a season or two's climbing. It seems more that the new seasons colours are the driving force.
I can understand some professional users of outdoor clothing may need to regularly update their wardrobe due to wear and tear, i also know that those same profesionals need to present an image to their clients, the proble is though, that that image is what drives people to want the latest clothing when there is no need for it. Those people then look to find that image at the lowest price and thats where the googling at the checkout antics come in.
How do we change this attitude. We don't because it would put more companies to the wall. We live with it and adapt to it.
Arguing about whether people are just paying extra for a premium outdoor brand when they could get essentially the same stuff for cheaper by buying generic sportswear or whatever is a totally different from arguing about whether people are buying exactly the same item of premium outdoor kit at a lower price on the internet rather than in their Local Climbing Shop, though.
In any case, people arguing that outdoors shops are raking it in by putting massive markups on everything seem to be missing the point that if they were raking it in then they wouldn't keep shutting. Hence we can probably conclude that they're marking stuff up about as much as they need to to cover their overheads, if that.
Urban Rock obviously wanted to sell their stock off (last years model maybe?). If the RRP is 200 I expect they are making nothing on it selling it at 80, possibly even a small loss.
By that argument, if the profit model is so poor then it is a failing of those that enter the business in the first place.
> By that argument, if the profit model is so poor then it is a failing of those that enter the business in the first place.
It wasn't as bad as it is now as it was in the past when most people started. Small independents are closing and you get surplus gear from mountain clothing companies from TK Maxx and Sports Direct.....and in the almost continuous sales.
But like Robert says, maybe an equilibrium will be reached.....I wonder how that will look.
And those professional users are often given shiny new kit by the manufacturers (or at least get a big discount) so that the fawning punters get the impression it is actually necessary.
Why? They don't actually need to present this image; it is just that the cynical manufacturers just create a climate where they feel thy ought to do so (as well as offering financial incentives for them to do so). It is pure commercialism. There is no professionally justifiable reason at all why a guide, say, shouldn't sport well worn but perfectly functional "unfashionable" gear.
Which, of course, is precisely the aim of the manufacturers.
> But like Robert says, maybe an equilibrium will be reached.....I wonder how that will look.
There will be fewer specialist shops offering good service where it is needed (boot fitting etc.) and small regularly needed items (chalk etc.) or cheap items (mugs etc.) and offering limited other stuff which they sell on the back of this service (with various incentives).
The rest will be online.
> The rest will be online.
This thread seems determined to ignore the facts and go off on a rant.
Ambleside has (or had) 3 independent climbing shops I know of as well as a Cotswolds and Adventure Peaks appear to stock gear. Add to this a load of general outdoor clothing shops. Not sustainable for a place that size.
In Manchester, during the time web shopping has evolved, loads of new climbing shops have opened, including all the new walls having their own shops.
You're barking up the wrong tree.
> In Manchester, during the time web shopping has evolved, loads of new climbing shops have opened, including all the new walls having their own shops.
I do agree that shops operating off the back of climbing walls may well buck the trend since they have a regular captive army of window shoppers. In fact I hardly ever buy stuff from shops except from the one at my local wall; by calling in regularly I can snap up bargains - I hardly ever buy anything at full price there!
Thats why you see super alpine jackets knocking around at £250 instead of £500, they aren't being sold at a loss they were just bought more cheaply from Patagonia as they are old season models etc.
Margins are tight in all outdoor goods and 20% off, as someone suggested earlier, would cause a well run independent to run at a loss.
Not necessarily everyone, some will be happy to pay the stated price. At the end of the day, prices will settle at the level that people are prepared to pay but most people will do at least a bit of shopping around! You would ask for a discount on a car or go to the next dealer, so why should that be different for outdoor gear? Some of it is pretty expensive. Ok, there isn't an expectation of discounts with be general clothing but you do get hefty sales (more so than with outdoors stuff, ever seen cams on Xmas sale?) and people can and do buy thru online discounters. You can fret all you like but you can't ignore the competition from online stores.
I think over time where we will get to is chains selling general outdoors wear (which is a growth market I suspect, lots more duvets and waterproofs around town these days) and some climbing stuff, a few well known independents in the honey pot locations like Needle Sport, shops at climbing walls (low overheads so can compete but only visited by climbers so will never be big) and online stores. A few more shops will die off. Natural selection!
I wouldn't try in store then buy online myself but I wouldn't condemn others who do either. What I would do though is shop around online for the best price if I'm looking to buy something fairly expensive and I already know what I want so don't need to check it out in store. Eg I know I want to get a pair of ice lines for next winter so the best price will win there. Whereas for the odd replacement biner or something I need to try on I'd go to an actual shop.
I do ask for the 10% BMC discount or 15% that my local club has negotiated with my local Cotswold. If they're prepared to offer it, I figure they won't be selling at a loss and they want my custom.
It depends. I agree that a cheap base layer or pair of trainers will do for cragging but merino or Patagonia stuff is worth paying for, especially if you do more active stuff like Alpine climbing, and they last for years. Approach shoes will last well and grip better with a Vibram or similar sole so you can move quicker. I don't fancy a twisted ankle due to my foot slipping on a boulder. Basic crabs are fine, the more expensive ones will basically be lighter (and feel better but that's a small thing) - whether the weight saving is worh it depends what you climb, an extra kilo in weight is a lot on an E5 or a on all day V Diff in the mountains but negligible on a V Diff at Stanage.
I know mark up on clothing is a lot and I assume climbing wear is similar. A gore tex jacket doesn't really cost £300 to make! Even allowing for manufacturer needing to cover all their costs. A mate sells climbing guide books on the net and these are meant to be low mark up items hence in shops you often don't get discounts but he says it's still a chunky mark up and so he can sell a bit cheaper or same price even with p&p. But perhaps you run a climbing shop and know the numbers, in which case I defer to you. Otherwise we're both guessing! It's UKC after all!
50% of RRR means a 100% mark up ie you're selling for twice what it cost you to buy. So if what you say re 50% is right it would work like this: say RRP incl VAT is £100. Buy for £50 incl VAT, that's £43 net plus £7 VAT you recover. Sell for £100 incl VAT, that's £83 plus £17 VAT you pay over. Gross profit taking VAT out of the equation is £83 - £43 = £40. Or to put it another way sell for £100 less cost of £50 less net VAT paid to HMRC = £40. So before any discount that's what you've got to contribute to coveting your operating costs. Then it's a question of managing your costs and getting the sales up. Easier said than done! Still, as others have said there are plenty of shops that are still around. Whether they make much money is another question...
I feel the point of the thread was that people were mourning the loss of an independent shop, where the general consensus was that Lakes climber and other similar stores in general give the best advice with the most knowledgeable staff (so why did they have to close!)... They lose out because of huge discounts offered elsewhere. EMS and theoutdoorshop, to name but two give 20% for being a BMC member, and for EMS you dont even need to be a member.
So why would anyone buy a pair of Nomics... or camalots or a rope or whatever at full price when these avenues exist. I dont see these online shops offering personal experience or advice, just a "Buy now save £££" button.
So the independents exist, with dedicated staff members that know about the gear and are more than happy to advise on purchases using first hand knowledge, then the discount retailers exist to drag consumers away by offering cheaper prices.
Yes you negotiate a bit of cash or a freebie when buying a car, but we're talking thousands of pounds, If you came to me and spent a couple of grand in my shop i'll probably be able to sort you out a free gift!
The only discounts should be on stock thats been sat on the rail for a season. new stock should remain at RRP. it would create a level playing field and would allow shops to build on their reputation as being an outdoor gear specialist rather than "that place where you can save a few £"
> 50% of RRR means a 100% mark up ie you're selling for twice what it cost you to buy. So if what you say re 50% is right it would work like this: say RRP incl VAT is £100. Buy for £50 incl VAT, that's £43 net plus £7 VAT you recover. Sell for £100 incl VAT, that's £83 plus £17 VAT you pay over. Gross profit taking VAT out of the equation is £83 - £43 = £40. Or to put it another way sell for £100 less cost of £50 less net VAT paid to HMRC = £40. So before any discount that's what you've got to contribute to coveting your operating costs. Then it's a question of managing your costs and getting the sales up. Easier said than done! Still, as others have said there are plenty of shops that are still around. Whether they make much money is another question...
Trade price is excluding vat, rrp includes vat. The figures are not like for like. So £50 trade is £60 cost price. This is a favourable mark up and one that is less common now than it once was.
The sad (and I do think its sad) reality is that regardless of all the hot air about people should support local shops etc, 95% will be driven by cost alone and shop around for the cheapest possible price. The balance will be reached and I imagine it will be a few large discount establishments that will dominate the market with a very small amount of niche independent retailers that feed off the scraps from the bigs boys, virtually all online.
This is nothing to do with climbing shops etc, this is the way all shops are going to go and the highstreet will continue to get more and more dull. That is the choice we have made.
I had started typing out the same on my phone earlier and managed to lose it! But completely agree - I've worked in shops in the past and I know that you can really help some people with advice, steering them toward buying stuff that will make them enjoy whatever it is they are going to be doing more than they would have otherwise. But the internet gives loads of info on most things climbing now, meaning access to far more knowledge than even the most experienced shop worker can have of their products. That's not a criticism of shops (or good shops at least), just the way it is. Petarghh mentioned nomics and camalots as examples - and they're good examples of this. I _don't_ need any advice from a shop before buying them - of course some people will, but many of us won't. We've decided what we want before we start looking to buy. Technical gear in climbing isn't really "technical" enough for the shop to be the "gate keeper" of knowledge to someone buying in that market who has done research first.
Something like cycling is a good comparison point. I'm a moderate bike geek and do a lot of my own work on my bikes. I'm thinking of getting a new front mech for my CX bike, and know that before just buying one off the net for cheap, I need to work out my frame size because it doesn't have a braze-on attachment point and I need to know if the mech will be compatible with my shifters. I think after much reading around I can sort all that out, but you can easily see why many people with a good local bike shop would just go there and ask the mechanics "what do I need?" I think there are less situations like that with climbing gear.
But what you say sums up what I was trying to show, since when did outdoor clothing start to mirror haute Coutoure in being either in or out of season? (and I dont mean the difference between summer & winter).
Finding the right advice on the internet isn't always as easy as you make it sound for the less experienced customer. In the good shops you get independant advice more focussed on your needs based on a quick Q&A. Another really key issue is fit and feel, especially for for shoes and harnesses.
One point for the more experienced climber is holidays... however well I research stuff on the internet, the good local shops always seem to give me some useful tips that I've missed (especially so in the US) and I always buy something as a thank you. Another (for the UK) is something to do to escape from bad weather.
I think people are weird in this respect and some climbers weird even for people. You spend thousands to go somewhere on holiday where the local shop adds to the experience then dont buy something you could probably do with as you can make-do and save a few quid on the internet later. Its similar to the reluctance of beginners to use guides in winter or the alps ... people will fanny around and spend lots of money and valuable time and at extra risk when a recommended guide makes learning way more efficient and can give loads of useful tips.
This is certainly so, I don´t need any advice from my local independent dealers and I doubt any of my climbing friends do either. The advice will very likely be worthless and handed down in a slightly sneering way as well since I´m neither 25 nor spraying about sending my next V9 or whatever.
It´s also worth remembering since the subject is loyalty to a method of shopping that there was a time before small climbing shops and one bought everything by mail order from Blacks, YHA etc. Like most of my age group I could climb up to E1 before I ever saw a climbing shop. Independent climbing shops are a transient retailing model and the good ones will adapt and survive and the rest will fall by the wayside.
You're right, it's nice to get a sales person in a shop who actually knows about the gear and what the differences are between the different manufacturers but you can get loads of useful feedback from your mates, on the UKC forums and from gear reviews (on UKC and in climbing mags, though the latter can be a bit naff as sometimes they just regurgitate what the manufacturer's website says when what I want is real experience of using the stuff). The shop assistant's view is just one other view to take into account and it won't necessarily be the decisive one. In a way, I'd rather have a shop with a wide range of gear where the staff don't know that much about it than a shop with a narrow range where the staff know a lot. They might know a lot but if they don't have the thing that fits me or that I'm looking for, it's not much use to me!
Again, agree totally. A Nomic will be good for ice routes and dry tooling but perhaps not as suitable for British winter and the Alps. Even if you know nothing about ice axes, you can pick up that kind of knowledge from the recent UKC ice axe review and from speaking with winter climbers you know (one of the advantages of being in a local club is you can ask people about such things). Or just stick a post up on UKC and you're bound to get a few responses. No doubt some people will have different views but that's actually useful as often there are no right and wrong answers and no ideal solutions when it comes to climbing gear (or climbing generally!). You can then make an assessment for yourself. Granted, that's harder to do for those with less experience in the area but again that's where knowing more experienced climbers (or gear geeks!) will help.
The real advantage of a shop is that when it comes to stuff like clothing and harnesses you can try it on for size and feel etc. As I've said, I wouldn't try something on in a shop and then go online but I wouldn't scowl at people who do.
If that's the case the business probably has underlying problems i.e. lack of profitable sales at sufficient volumes.
A Some one I know runs a small shop in a small town. His rent and rates are £90,000 pa, not uncommon. In many places business rates are far higher in town centre locations than in out of town shopping malls. IMHO councils shoulder a big responsibility for killing off town centres with their high business rates. In contrast rents have fallen in real terms over the last 15 years.
- in going to an out of town centre you don't face town traffic
- parking is free and easy
- shops are conveniently located near one another
- you may be able to make all purchases under one roof i.e. multiple food retailer
- prices may be lower
I am not an advocate of out of town shopping but for many the apparent logic of the above points is hard to deny. Obviously the fact that many people now shop in a totally different way, online, is a significant factor too.
Well that's just the free market economy we live in, not saying it right but this is the kind of society that's being pushed at the moment.
I must say most of best climbing gear deals have all be from small Indy shops I don't think there as expensive as some like to make out.
I suppose business costs are very high now in Ambleside. Bought gear there odd times, both in store and by mail. Always liked the shop, tucked away off the main street. Sad to see it close.
Maybe another reason smaller climbing shops seem to be getting fewer is the ever increasing amount of stuff that is out there. It's nice to have a wide range of rock shoes, for example, but that means a room devoted to them which previously might have housed the whole shop.
I was in a large chain store last Sunday, I think its called Stay Indoors or something to that effect. I saw a pair of climbing shoes for £90.00 that I have been after for a while. Knowing that there was a 15% off offer on Saturday I decided to go back and purchase said climbing shoes, only to find that they had increased the price to £99.00 making the shoes after discount £84.15 as opposed to £76.50. This is legal but just not ethical, a word of warning, all is not as it seems, don't trust the man. If you want a good honest deal support your local independent real climbing shop. I wont be shopping at stay indoors again.
Where is that exactly? Must be hidden in my town...
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