MELBOURNE (AUS): An outdoor adventure retail concept becomes reality in December with the opening in the outer Melbourne suburb of Bayswater of the first Anaconda-The Adventure Playground store.
Modelled on the very successful Big Box retailers, REI in the States and MEC in Canada, the 3000 square metre Bayswater outlet will be the first of 13 in the next two years.
Overall growth in the next few years may stretch to 40 stores nationally.
The outdoor sports and family adventure activities to be covered by the group, its parent company is the Spotlight Group, are hiking, bicycling, fishing, camping, kayaking and rock climbing.
Each sporting section has its own business manager and according to the Bicycle and rock climbing Manager, Sam Whittam the bicycle section will contain only three brands of bicycles.
‘I really wanted to do three brands, tell the story of each brand, which means we can pitch each brand to our customers, not like some shops which swamp themselves with five, six or even seven brands.
‘One or two wholesalers we spoke to didn’t really seem to understand the vision we have for our stores.’
Vision and passion are two words that exemplify the Anaconda story, even their mission statement echoes those sentiments: ‘To inspire, equip and enable people to get outdoors.’
But the opening of the first store in December won’t just have been a haphazard event, it has come about after four years of intensive market research in a variety of overseas and local marketplaces.
‘Basically what was found here was that while the smaller individual retailers are doing a great job in their respective areas, no-one is covering the range that we will, all under the one roof.
‘We will become a one stop family adventure holiday retailing destination as we will be incorporating tours, travel and travel insurance as part of the service we offer.’
But Sam Whittam scoffed at the idea it would be like a mass merchant with few staff on the floor and little expertise.
‘Our 70 strong staff will start with two weeks training in early November, then we’ll have two weeks to set the store up and we’ll be open for business in early December.
‘If you look at the bicycle area we’ll be selling bicycles as a specialist retailer, we’ll be servicing all the equipment like disc brakes and shocks in our own workshop.
‘The 80 model strong bike area will be staffed by committed, passionate people who love to ride bikes, as do I around the countryside.’
He pointed to how people’s concepts were changing and the idea of families going on adventure holidays was a growth area.
‘We’ll be catering for everyone from 8-80.’
Another feature which is believed to be the first of its kind in Australia is the 360 degree, 6.5m climbing pinnacle with its autobelay system, which will enable climbers to hook themselves on and climb as they are able without waiting for staff to hook them on.
Camping and hiking are expected to account for 50% of the store’s turnover, the fishing area will be huge, kayaking and non powered boating will also take up a fair area as will the clothing and footwear section.