Outdoor Outlet, which opened its doors in St. George, Utah, in 1983, is shutting its doors for good at the end of business on Christmas Eve. It is yet another store for whom the bottom just fell out as all the bad economic news began making headlines in 2008.
Owner Doug Syphus told SNEWS® that while June is normally his store’s biggest month of the year for sales, this year sales just collapsed and they never recovered.
“This June, sales were our weakest in 25 years of being in business. We were still selling the odd climbing rope, harness and water bottle,” Syphus said, “But sales for bigger items like backpacks, tents and sleeping bags just disappeared.”
Syphus, who worked for Outdoor Outlet since 1983 before purchasing it from Brunton in 1991, hasn’t given much thought to what he is going to do next.
“I have no idea what I am going to do,” said Syphus. “Right now I am concentrating on getting the store closing done the right way and getting as much of our inventory sold as possible.”
Whatever inventory is left over once Outdoor Outlet closes will be sold by store neighbor Dixie Gun and Fish. “We have very little left, but they’ll sell what is left for us as we have a good arrangement,” Syphus told us.
By contrast, Dixie Gun and Fish is apparently doing very well, in large part, according to Syphus, because of the rush on guns following the November election and the fear over President-elect Obama restricting gun sales.
If Syphus has any regrets, it is for his employees.
“I wish we could have done something more for our employees, but when you are shutting down, it is because you have no money,” said Syphus. “I chose to shut down now so I would be able to pay 100 percent of our vendors.”
In all, four full-time employees and 6 part-time employees will be out of work as of the 25th of December, SNEWS was told.
SNEWS® View: Launched in the original location of the St. George Kelty Pack manufacturing facility in 1983, Outdoor Outlet (then called Wenzel Outlet Store) was owned then by Kellwood – you know, of American Recreation Products fame and now owned by Sun Capital. Most of the product then was either Kelty or Wenzel, and the name Outdoor Outlet came to be in 1984. The store was so successful that, before long, Kellwood was in the retail business, with seven stores around the country. However, it did not take long for Kellwood to decide retail was not its expertise, so it shut or sold off its existing stores. The Outdoor Outlet was purchased by Brunton, and then, in 1991, was acquired by Doug Syphus. Mail order was launched shortly afterward, and then in early 2000, a website. All of it—mail order, website and in-store sales—crashed, Syphus told us. He didn’t blame anything but the economy, even saying that whatever affect the appearance of a Sportsman’s Warehouse had was long over and his store had successfully rebounded – that is, until the avalanche of bad economic news. This is the second store with a strong heritage to close in as many weeks (Canoe Rack was first), and it is not a good sign. We’re hearing increasingly loud rumblings of other impending store closings and possible Ch. 11 proceedings that will start to make news in the weeks to come. Naturally, though not with any pleasure, we’ll keep you posted.