Sports shop bucks trend of store closures

Claudia Routhorn-James, Nigel Deane, Abi Helps and Tim Deane in the new shop.

Claudia Routhorn-James, Nigel Deane, Abi Helps and Tim Deane in the new shop. - Credit: Archant

WHILE many shops are struggling to stay afloat in the face of increased competition with the internet, two entrepreneurs are bucking the trend by opening a new store alongside their already successful online business.

Father and son team Nigel and Tim Deane closed their sports shop five years ago to concentrate on selling their products online.

But now they are re-opening Deane Sports in Bath Street, Cheddar, to run alongside their 28 sport-specific websites.

Tim said: “We have been doing well online for many years now and that’s enabled us to do what we really wanted, which was to open the shop again.

“We got in at the right time for the internet business and we’re now one of the biggest online rugby retailers in the country.

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“But it will be nice to have that face-to-face customer interaction again. People buy things off the website but you don’t feel like you’re really ‘selling’ it, someone is just buying it.

“I think people are missing interaction in shops too. There used to be a lot of good sport shops in the South West where people could get advice about their purchases, but that isn’t so much the case now.”

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They intend to create a link between their shop and online stores by using a touch screen to provide access to their catalogue of over 20,000 products.

One way of providing a service to their customers not possible over the internet is through a machine which analyses a person’s running style and can determine the correct footwear for their feet.

Although they may charge for this service to try and counter the problem of people using the machine and then buying shoes elsewhere, this money would be refunded if they bought a pair of shoes in-store.

Tim said: “In the shop we can see people try on shoes and say it is not the right type for the position they play. It means we are able to sell someone a pair of shoes that’s right for them. You can’t do that over the web.”

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