LETTER: Sport Townsend succumbs to Quimper

Posted 3/7/17

Sport Townsend has become a casualty of Quimper Mercantile. After almost 27 years since it opened, I was forced to close this iconic outdoor retail store Feb. 11.

I managed this thriving business …

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LETTER: Sport Townsend succumbs to Quimper

Posted

Sport Townsend has become a casualty of Quimper Mercantile. After almost 27 years since it opened, I was forced to close this iconic outdoor retail store Feb. 11.

I managed this thriving business since 1995, and purchased it in the summer of 2011 with high hopes of serving the community for many years. It supported one part-time and four full-time employees.

Even before the Mercantile opened, I worried about the possibility of duplication of products. I was reassured there would be nothing that infringed on my inventory. Not so.

I have watched a growing number of outdoor products added at the Mercantile: tents, sleeping bags, hiking shoes, backpacks, even some of the same brands I stocked. Vendors alerted me that buyers there persisted in asking to carry my exact products.

I attempted to talk to both the manager and assistant manager about this. Once I encountered complete denial; the next time I was told simply, “Well, it’s an outdoor town.”

Clearly, there is not enough business in this small town for two outdoor stores.

The Mercantile was presented as a venture to fill the gaps of what was not already available.

Countless people browsed my store only to tell me that they were going over to the “Merc” and they may be back. Most never returned. My customers were community-minded folks who invested in the “general store,” and I was doomed.

I’m saddened by the realization that all my hard work, Sport Townsend’s great service and quality products were simply not enough to compete with the buying power and discounts offered at the Mercantile.

I am not the only merchant impacted by this store, just the first one to have succumbed.

Beyond my plans for the future being dashed, I am deeply concerned about the future of the downtown district.

SUSAN JACOBS

Port Townsend

Editor’s note: Quimper CEO Peter Quinn was asked to respond to this letter. He wrote: “The board and staff were sorry to see Sport Townsend close. They carried many brands and items, particularly serving the needs of hikers and campers that were not available anywhere else in town. We worked directly with Sport Townsend prior to opening in 2011 in order to be additive to what was available locally and continued in that manner until its closing.

We would like to point out that Quimper Mercantile occupies the space that, for 14 years, was occupied by Swain’s Outdoor. They offered clothing and sporting goods as well. Sport Townsend co-existed with them the entire time. We believe we have kept local shoppers coming into town acting as downtown PT’s anchor tenant.

We are all competing with online retail options. Supporting each other is simply good business. Locally owned and managed, we provide 14 living wage jobs. The health of our downtown shopping is a shared goal and we work every day to be a positive contributor to our community.”

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