SPL wrote:In the time that I have known of performance kayaks the shop has gone from thriving to impossible and therefore sadly closed.
In the same time Palm has grown from a small unit with few staff to a very large brand new unit and an established national/international company.
The two businesses are 10 miles apart and although I appreciate there are many other factors involved I would expect to see a stronger correlation in their success and failure seeing as they "should", "might have" or "used to" rely upon one another.
Let me be clear that in no way do I mean to lay blame on Palm for the demise of PK but the industry as a whole needs to be concerned if as well as the independent shops being unable to survive but neither can the chains.
(Sorry to go on about it Rich..x)
The are more factors are play, than outlined here. The previous owner of PK, started the business and told it to a point where it was sold to Richard and Dizzy. Rich purchased the business, and made a great stab at it, with Palm close by, could go and collect gear easily and promptly get orders that he had no stock of, but Palm did, so its an advantage. At the time PK changed hands, Palm had already been for 10 years or more at their current site. PK was always only ever a small specialist shop, and never employed more than a single person, so any changes in the market or business plan could and clearly did have an impact on venue. Rich and Dizzy got out with all their money which is a good thing, and for the year's they ran it, it produced an income for Rich, but they struggled to build value in the business, which for any retailer is very difficult indeed. This is not at all a criticism but simply an observation.
Palm on the over hand, after the move in 2000 to a purpose built unit and as the licensee for Dagger in Europe, have gone on to strengthen their export market considerably, in addition to being able to offer value products across paddlesports to their home market too, with the launch and development of several new brands. The question of direct sales, is often posed, yet the dealer network is what built their business, and as such its the backbone of the supply side of the industry. Direct online sales, is only ever likely to erode over the longer term the dealer network and possible a prime way people come into the sport. Direct sales are unlikely to aid growth in participation. We are at a cross roads there is little doubt, with the closure of 12 stores in the UK in the past year a lone, yet is this simply down to the lack of money available in the economy at this time. Retail outlets that offer a wider set of services are probably the way forward. The likes of in house introduction to paddlesports, along the lines of AS on the Water have proved highly successful, plus sudo-club style paddling generated by a store, is likely to build on customer relations. Making and developing events to strengthen & drive local participation is much needed, across Europe where I see this happening are the most successful stores. Box shops, have their place offering efficient value based services, but I sincerely hope these are the exemption and not the norm, paddling and the culture of paddling has substance and a depth to it, and a generic approach to sales, is unlikely to drive paddling on, beyond the simple sale of gear.