By PHILIP CHANDLER
If anyone knows how hard Queenstown’s retail scene is, not least this year, it’s local couple
Judy and John Knight, who this week mark 25 years in business.
They’ve had Outside Sports — specialising in ski, hike, bike and leisure — in three successive CBD venues.
They traded for about 10 years at the top of The Mall, moved to a new Shotover Street building, over three levels, for another 10 years or so, then shifted into another new Shotover St building, over just one floor, five-and-a half years ago.
Judy, who’s also the manager, says when they opened in ‘95 ‘‘everyone said, ‘you’re mad’, cos it was pretty doom and gloom, there was nothing happening in town’’.
‘‘But we saw it was ripe for a high-end store that specialised in all the things Queenstown has at its back door.’’
Then, over the years, they’ve faced increasing competition from chain stores like Torpedo7,
Macpac, Kathmandu and Mountain Warehouse, as well as online trading.
Judy says you can’t compete with chain stores, but instead they’ve offered higher-end
products and brands you can’t find elsewhere in New Zealand.
This year, with Covid-19 border restrictions killing off non-NZ tourism, business has been stressful.
However, she says she and John have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in, ‘‘because if you are not involved, totally, then you could lose hold of what you’ve got’’.
‘‘When we come out of this, we’ll have a stronger business model because we’ve had to make changes we wouldn’t have made pre-Covid.’’
She’s delighted they’ve retained valued staff and is grateful for ‘‘ongoing support’’ from their local landlords, John Martin and Mike Davies, and from loyal local clientele ‘‘and a steady stream of NZ holidaymakers’’.
She says they considered opening in Frankton’s expanding shopping centres but decided not to.
‘‘We know this sort of shop is a destination shop, people will find it — and free parking out the back is a godsend.’’
Meanwhile, the couple also own outlets in Te Anau, in Wanaka, with a business partner, and are opening in Tekapo in February.
They’ve also had a Queenstown Airport presence since 2004, latterly through an Icebreaker
Touchlab, but after Covid have turned this into a ‘‘mini’’ Outside Sports.