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October 2017 Issue
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Hamish Pirie of won the Online Retailer of the Year Award. Photo: Ray Salisbury
Online Retailer of the Year

After closing a brick-and-mortar outdoor store and moving online four years ago, Gearshop owner Hamish Pirie says he would never look back.

Pirie started working in the industry while studying outdoor education in Greymouth, buying gear from a supplier and selling it to fellow students.

After working as a black water rafting guide on the West Coast and starting an indoor climbing business in Nelson, he opened outdoor retail store Altitude in 2006.

He soon began to expand online and eventually closed Altitude to focus on online sales.

“There are more opportunities online and you can offer more products,” Pirie says.

“We hold more stock now than we ever held as a retailer.”

The online business means he can sell nationwide while living in Nelson.

“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” he says.

The flexibility of online also enables him to juggle his other passions – he has been heavily involved in helicopter search and rescue. He started as a volunteer as part of a search and rescue helicopter crew in Nelson about 12 years ago and later joined the crew full time.

“We covered three national parks, two forest parks and two marine reserves and were doing about 400 missions a year.”

He has since left the Nelson role and now works as part of a helicopter crew in Australia, putting out bushfires over the summer.

“I usually work in short stints over there and I can still run the business remotely,” he says.

Pirie says a big part of running Gearshop is keeping up with the latest products entering the market. He was recently at trade shows in Germany and Utah, finding new products to import.

“We stock a good variety with a lot of fringe things like service components, and we are constantly bringing new products to the market.”