Redpaths – My part in their downfall

johnboy 26 August 2008 53

In some small, possibly sad, way buying my boots at Redpaths in Civic has been a part of my own self-identity for more years than I care to remember. 15 years maybe.

A series of ten-hole Doc Martens was followed by a love of black RedBacks. All lovingly fitted and often worn out of the poky little store on Garema Place. Even before I had the money to buy my own boots I can remember pressing my nose against the glass of the store and marveling at the booty goodness while waiting for my bus home.

And then a couple of weeks ago the glue holding the sole on my old RedBacks went for the last time, I realised the worn, dog-toothed leather was drinking polish, and it was time for a new pair of boots.

The homing instinct kicked in just right. I drove towards Civic unthinkingly. But then I had to park and the Canberra Centre parking was so very convenient.

And then, making my way on the top level towards Garema Place I walked by the Rivers store, and a pair of their boots caught my eye, and I bought them instead.

On the one hand it’s just a store. It’s not like I’m the only consumer in the world. Redpaths boots are hardly locally made.

On the other hand I feel like I’ve betrayed a good friend.

But I also think the Garema Place traders have been very badly done down by the changes wrought on the city in the latest re-configuration. My superb new boots and I are part of the problem.

I don’t like that very much.


What's Your Opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
53 Responses to Redpaths – My part in their downfall
Filter
Order
Deano Deano 8:56 pm 27 Aug 08

peterh said :

and if you don’t want all your money going to a Bunnings mega hardware store, try shopping at Magnet Mart. Started in canberra, owned by canberrans…

I would bet that there are more people in Canberra who are owners of Bunnings (through Westfarmers) than there are owners of MagnetMart. So then isn’t it better to buy from Bunnings because the profits get spread around many owners instead of from MagnetMart where the profits go to just a few?

As for Rivers’ shoes, I have a pair I have practically worn daily for over 5 years now and are still in presentable condition.

AngryHenry AngryHenry 12:01 pm 27 Aug 08

um they’re shoes, you can break this down as much as you want but personally it’s not the retail outlet and where it is located that influences my decisions on what shoes I would buy.

One, I have to be able to afford them so price is the big factor. And two, where they were made…

If some asian child under the age of six years old hasn’t sweatted it out for at least 18 hours in a stifling backwoods Chinese factory for no more than two cents a day, then I am just not going to feel comfortable walking in those shoes.

JUST DO IT!

swoosh!

peterh peterh 11:53 am 27 Aug 08

Skidbladnir said :

RE: only returning for legendary service…

I have previously had to go back to the same place as gave me shit service in the past, as I have a size 14 extra wide foot, and most places seem to think that if your foot is bigger than a size 12, you don’t exist.
They just refer you to Big & Tall Menswear, who are routinley crap at service.

Or they decide its not worth ordering in stock for you because only X percent of orders ever get picked up, despite you wanting a pair of reasonable looking and comfortable shoes to go with the suit you’re currently paying cash for.

what canberra needs is a shoe store that caters to the larger sizes in both men and women. I know of a couple of people, my wife included, who buy based on size, not style. She has commented many times that a shoe store that caters for all sizes with a focus on the larger end of town would do very well.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 11:43 am 27 Aug 08

RE: only returning for legendary service…

I have previously had to go back to the same place as gave me shit service in the past, as I have a size 14 extra wide foot, and most places seem to think that if your foot is bigger than a size 12, you don’t exist.
They just refer you to Big & Tall Menswear, who are routinley crap at service.

Or they decide its not worth ordering in stock for you because only X percent of orders ever get picked up, despite you wanting a pair of reasonable looking and comfortable shoes to go with the suit you’re currently paying cash for.

Whatsup Whatsup 11:35 am 27 Aug 08

shiny flu said :

Don’t worry, your Rivers boots will fall apart in a year or less- planned obsolescence.

My Rivers shoes and boots have out lasted other brands… but these Redbacks sound interesting.

Maybe Johnboy can offer us a road test report comparing the products after a year of use.

peterh peterh 11:09 am 27 Aug 08

johnboy said :

And yet in Civic we have Government planning driving consumers away from independent stores and into the arms of the large chains.

Also it’s not just the consumers who are on the most part dumb.

Living in the aftermath of bankers giving mortgages to hobos and then on-selling the mortgage as a triple-A rated security we can safely assume that the big end of town is tending to extremely short sighted greed with a large dollop of stupidity on top.

In that environment most economic models, no matter how elegant, start to creak.

and you have an apple?

did you buy it locally from the fledgling superchain of mac one or at another department store chain – myer, DJ’s, HN, Domayne, Harris Tech?

or perhaps one of the small stores that eke out a living on value, not price?

the market for retail in canberra is woeful. people are closing down, selling up, changing companies, being merged, etc, etc. And this is the IT industry only (I have no visibility of the others).

As for your choice of shoes, I have never bought based on the little retailer or the chain. I go back to the same people for new shoes only if they have provided me with legendary customer service.

and if you don’t want all your money going to a Bunnings mega hardware store, try shopping at Magnet Mart. Started in canberra, owned by canberrans…

jakez jakez 10:23 am 27 Aug 08

johnboy said :

And yet in Civic we have Government planning driving consumers away from independent stores and into the arms of the large chains.

Also it’s not just the consumers who are on the most part dumb.

Living in the aftermath of bankers giving mortgages to hobos and then on-selling the mortgage as a triple-A rated security we can safely assume that the big end of town is tending to extremely short sighted greed with a large dollop of stupidity on top.

In that environment most economic models, no matter how elegant, start to creak.

That’s absolutely right. The operative word in both topics, is Government.

I will say though, the Canberra Centre doesn’t have an ‘anti independent’ policy though. I’d say for many, it would be a rent thing.

To get back on topic, I agree with Mr Evil. Johnboy what were you thinking? Rivers, jesus.

johnboy johnboy 10:16 am 27 Aug 08

And yet in Civic we have Government planning driving consumers away from independent stores and into the arms of the large chains.

Also it’s not just the consumers who are on the most part dumb.

Living in the aftermath of bankers giving mortgages to hobos and then on-selling the mortgage as a triple-A rated security we can safely assume that the big end of town is tending to extremely short sighted greed with a large dollop of stupidity on top.

In that environment most economic models, no matter how elegant, start to creak.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 10:14 am 27 Aug 08

You gave up Redbacks to switch to Rivers: what were you thinking????

I love my Redbacks.

jakez jakez 10:10 am 27 Aug 08

fnaah said :

Yes and then you wake up to yourself and buy something from Nitro Records and not Sony.

I can’t say that I’ve got the figures on hand, but I think it’s fairly safe to draw the conclusion that based on which company is making more money, the number of sleeping sheeple out there vastly outweighs the people enjoying waking life. 😉

I’m not saying this is a good thing, nor am I saying the situation is necesarily getting worse, just that it is there, and is not necessarity the fault of the consumers themselves. People and markets are easily manipulated, and big companies know this. Little companies may also know this, but the more agressive manipulation takes resources they don’t have.

Blergh, I’m probably talking nonsense. I’ll shush now. 🙂

No not at all, I totally agree.

I’m just not arrogant enough (and I’m not suggesting your or anyone here is) to believe that the Government should step in to further my preferences.

jakez jakez 10:05 am 27 Aug 08

fnaah said :

Your points are valid jakez,and yeah, the internet has made tiny niche products available to anyone who cares to look, anjd that’s a great thing.

Consumers are idiots. But only if you generalise, which I was guilty of doing also.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not Captain of the Generic Squad. Like I said earlier, I love Landspeed BECAUSE of it’s atmosphere and the products that they have. I choose to pay extra for that.

I disagree with a lot of Walmart’s policies. Their music policy is gradually getting better but I still think it’s silly. That’s a product of their genesis though, they always had a slightly religious and conservative nature. They are also responding to their target market by not selling certain products. These are opportunities for others and when you get down to it, Walmart has greatly reduced the cost of good quality products for some of the poorest people in the USA, while INCREASING the diversity of products available.

No company is perfect, and you find that when a company starts to get a lions share of the market, that’s exactly when it starts to fall. The great example of an ‘evil monopoly’ is also a great example of they fluid nature of the market. Pacific Oil once had I believe about 90% of the energy market at one point in the US. However by the time the US brought in the antitrust laws, that share had dropped down to 40-60%. During the time that Pacific Oil had a ‘monopoly’, prices also fell hundreds of percentages. They got to their position because they had the best product, and when they tried to jack up prices, they lost market share. It’s all about the barrier to entry and with many things, the internet has opened up a cornucopia of opportunity.

fnaah fnaah 9:59 am 27 Aug 08

Yes and then you wake up to yourself and buy something from Nitro Records and not Sony.

I can’t say that I’ve got the figures on hand, but I think it’s fairly safe to draw the conclusion that based on which company is making more money, the number of sleeping sheeple out there vastly outweighs the people enjoying waking life. 😉

I’m not saying this is a good thing, nor am I saying the situation is necesarily getting worse, just that it is there, and is not necessarity the fault of the consumers themselves. People and markets are easily manipulated, and big companies know this. Little companies may also know this, but the more agressive manipulation takes resources they don’t have.

Blergh, I’m probably talking nonsense. I’ll shush now. 🙂

fnaah fnaah 9:47 am 27 Aug 08

Your points are valid jakez,and yeah, the internet has made tiny niche products available to anyone who cares to look, anjd that’s a great thing.

Consumers are idiots. But only if you generalise, which I was guilty of doing also.

jakez jakez 9:46 am 27 Aug 08

fnaah said :

Well said needlenose, I know the same thing happens in the US music industry at places like Walmart – they tell the record companies what they will and won’t put on their shelves, and thus the record companies tell their artists what they can and can’t record.

Yes and then you wake up to yourself and buy something from Nitro Records and not Sony.

fnaah fnaah 9:42 am 27 Aug 08

Well said needlenose, I know the same thing happens in the US music industry at places like Walmart – they tell the record companies what they will and won’t put on their shelves, and thus the record companies tell their artists what they can and can’t record.

The danger of big chain stores is that they focus on what is profitable, and once they’ve forced the smaller botique stores out of business, the customer is left with little to no choice. I’m not sure the Bunnings argument of “larger range” holds water – sometimes you’re forced to buy from the one or two brands/types they have in stock. I had this problem when trying to buy a plunger. They had two types, one all plastic and crap quality, one with a plastic handle and crap quality. I ended up borrowing one from a friend.

jakez jakez 9:38 am 27 Aug 08

needlenose said :

But Steps 3 and 4 break down once the market is saturated by chains. For example, in retail books, the massive retailers are now so powerful that they are able to dictate to publishing houses what is and is not worth publishing. There have been significant changes in the last 20 years in the types of books which are published and how they are marketed, with many “mid-list” authors who had decent sales being abandoned in favour of the latest Dan Brown lookalike.

One solid-selling mid-list mystery writer in the US told me that she was now being required to write a book a year, for release at peak sale time. Which meant she had to submit a synopsis of the proposed new book within a few weeks of finishing the last book, which the publishers then tinkered with and got her to resubmit half a dozen times for the next six months or so, leaving her only 3 – 4 months to actually write the damn thing. Because that’s when the big chain bookstores want to be selling it.

I love my independent bookseller (hi Gayle at Gaslight!) because she can and will get in obscure or offbeat titles that I can’t find elsewhere (though a tip of the hat to the crime section at Dymock’s Belconnen – one of the better franchises). But far fewer of those books get to publication at all now, so the niche is narrowing.

Also, having spent nine years of my own life working in retail books, I know that there simply isn’t a level playing field in terms of buying stock. Books are generally sold to retailers at a percentage discount on the recommended retail price. So Borders will probably pay about $12 for a book with an RRP of $20, whereas an independent bookseller will only be able to buy that book at a discount of 10 – 15% or so – ie the same book costs them $18 to sell at $20. The larger store can sell that book for $15, advertise a 25% discount to its customers and still make a $3 profit; the independent can only make a $2 profit selling the book at full price.

So it’s not quite as easy as “here’s a gap in the market which an independent entrant can fill” – because both the product and the price are dictated by the large chains. It’s not impossible for an independent to succeed, but it is bloody difficult.

So that’s why Amazon charges exorbitant prices.

Oh wait, no it doesn’t.

Step 3 is within the original paradigm, I don’t believe it will ever ever ever get to that point. The economy is dynamic.

As for Step 4, Borders beats the crap out of the independents in both price (usually) and selection. You are right, their is significant economies of scale. That however has a limit and their are three points that stand out in your story.

1, Publishing houses. If that is the case, that is a perfect opportunity for an independent publishing house to rise up. We have them right now. I know of a publisher that is almost exclusively devoted to printing books that either call for the abolition of the Government, or claim that the US Civil War wasn’t a good idea.

2, Niche markets. The indies will cater to niche markets. The book industry is not uniform either and it will become less so. There is nothing wrong with that.

3, The internet. This is the great destroyer of the (dear god monopoly no) myth. Not only is it easy for bigger companies to compete all over the globe, it is disgustingly easy for extreme niche markets to operate (see point 1). I know people who sell their own book by themselves. Your mystery writer friend either needs to realise the decent position they are in, or sack up and stop sacrificing their creative vision. I’ll leave that choice to them.

4, Consumers are idiots. It sucks that people like Dan Brown over your hoity toity collection. I know the feeling I read weird books too. Get off your high horse.

5, Books are cheaper. I have a much greater range of selection at far less prices than just 5 years ago. All this doom and gloom doesn’t match reality.

jakez jakez 12:21 am 27 Aug 08

Aeek said :

What I really hate about the new Canberra Centre is the parking that forces you to exit onto Bunda Street. Insane.

Which carpark exits onto Bunda St? I can only think of carparks that exit onto Cooyong/Ballumbri

needlenose needlenose 11:46 pm 26 Aug 08

But Steps 3 and 4 break down once the market is saturated by chains. For example, in retail books, the massive retailers are now so powerful that they are able to dictate to publishing houses what is and is not worth publishing. There have been significant changes in the last 20 years in the types of books which are published and how they are marketed, with many “mid-list” authors who had decent sales being abandoned in favour of the latest Dan Brown lookalike.

One solid-selling mid-list mystery writer in the US told me that she was now being required to write a book a year, for release at peak sale time. Which meant she had to submit a synopsis of the proposed new book within a few weeks of finishing the last book, which the publishers then tinkered with and got her to resubmit half a dozen times for the next six months or so, leaving her only 3 – 4 months to actually write the damn thing. Because that’s when the big chain bookstores want to be selling it.

I love my independent bookseller (hi Gayle at Gaslight!) because she can and will get in obscure or offbeat titles that I can’t find elsewhere (though a tip of the hat to the crime section at Dymock’s Belconnen – one of the better franchises). But far fewer of those books get to publication at all now, so the niche is narrowing.

Also, having spent nine years of my own life working in retail books, I know that there simply isn’t a level playing field in terms of buying stock. Books are generally sold to retailers at a percentage discount on the recommended retail price. So Borders will probably pay about $12 for a book with an RRP of $20, whereas an independent bookseller will only be able to buy that book at a discount of 10 – 15% or so – ie the same book costs them $18 to sell at $20. The larger store can sell that book for $15, advertise a 25% discount to its customers and still make a $3 profit; the independent can only make a $2 profit selling the book at full price.

So it’s not quite as easy as “here’s a gap in the market which an independent entrant can fill” – because both the product and the price are dictated by the large chains. It’s not impossible for an independent to succeed, but it is bloody difficult.

jakez jakez 11:46 pm 26 Aug 08

Actually that should be ‘yay we exchanged worthless pieces of paper for valuable goods’.

Also, apologies for the rude comment.

Aeek Aeek 11:45 pm 26 Aug 08

Canberra still has an artificial retail space market, tends to distort things.

On Canberra Centre, I still frequent Garema Place but have stopped going to the Old Canberra Centre unless I want DJs or Myer.

What I really hate about the new Canberra Centre is the parking that forces you to exit onto Bunda Street. Insane.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top

Search across the site