Retail despair


Fishing tackle is a ‘blokey’ kind of thing – most customers wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

Readers may be forgiven for believing that the following is fictitious, but regrettably it is not. While holidaying on the Central Coast I chanced to visit a fishing tackle store in Umina. On entering the store I noticed the owner sitting at a desk behind the counter. My presence was ignored. As is my wont in these circumstances I announced myself with a bold, breezy and friendly “good afternoon”. The reaction was stupefying. The owner continued to ‘work’ on his computer and grunted something like “how you doing”.

At this point I put my pilchards on the counter, which I thought may attract his attention. “Won’t be long mate”. As I stood there seething but not showing it, I noticed lo and behold, that the reason for his inattention was a computer game.

Now let’s not overact – or should we? Customer enters. No greeting. Sit on your butt. Play a game on computer. When customer clearly wants attention, tell him to wait. Finish game. ‘Attend’ to customer.

The irony is that he was quite a nice bloke. Once he had come to terms with the interruption to his game, he willingly took my money.

Is this an anomaly? Or is this small retail in Australia? If this is how an owner operates, why is he still in business? I pondered over this for hours. There was no animosity whatsoever and all dealings were entirely friendly, civil and cordial. But what caused this contempt, disdain and arrogance towards a new customer?

The only conclusion I could reach was that he didn’t really care a hoot. He was comfortable with his business ticking over. Fishing tackle is a ‘blokey’ kind of thing. Most customers wouldn’t bat an eyelid at his behaviour.

What made the entire scenario a lot worse was that the store was a mess. It was not a disaster but it could certainly have done with a tidy up, a bit of merchandising and a clean-up. The expensive reels were in a glass cabinet for security reasons but the cabinet was unlocked.

How can anyone with an interest in retail not despair? Let any bricks and mortar retailer of this ilk dare to complain about the internet taking sales. Hang your head in shame Mr Owner of the Umina Tackle store.

Stuart Bennie is a retail consultant at Impact Retailing and can be contacted at [email protected] or 0414 631 702.     



  1. kevin posted on February 17, 2017

    on the surface of your prose, it seems as though you were in a holiday town, on holiday from the city. maybe this guy does make exactly what he needs and wants from his business and deals with locals and active fisherman every day. maybe he was grumpy because he had to work on his holiday or deal with holiday folk who were buying bait during a period when there is no way they will catch a fish. maybe the same "lazy" inattentive owner is a whirlwind of activity during the "good time to fish" hours when his shop is really busy. i worked for a man who had a retail turnover of $35 million per annum every year for the 5 years i worked there. i cleaned up the untidy dirty shop when i started. he made me mess it up again because he knew that customers think that a dirty hole in the wall shop has better bargains than the flashy, super clean, light and bright shops where everyone wears clean pressed clothes. retail is an art not just a science. watching pro hart paint is very different than it would be to watch say monet. sometimes the messy way is the best way. also different customers want different service. from a technical standpoint you would say that a bank or telco have a perfect system for service. but we all know the both suck. reply

  2. Evan posted on February 18, 2017

    There's always two sides to any story and I would bet the shirt off my back that it was not anywhere near as bad as you tell it Stuart. The man is only trying to make a living, leave him alone and if you didn't like it why did you make a purchase it sounds like all your tring to do is cause trouble. reply

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