Independent retailer of the year
Still going strong in an industry dominated by big-box retail, Living Simply managing director Ben Sinclair says having nearly 30 years of experience has been crucial to thriving in an ultra competitive environment.
Ben’s dad, Mark, opened the Newmarket store in 1988, when there was still room for the little guy, and Ben started working at the family business from the age of 14.
After heading overseas, Ben began working full time at the store in 2009 and took over management when his father retired recently.
He says the reason for the store’s longevity is simple.
“We are just better than the competition,” he says. “We’ve retained all that knowledge of how the industry works and evolves. It hasn’t been sold to someone else, it’s all been handed down like a legacy that’s passed on directly from dad to me and me to my staff members.”
Ben says Living Simply focuses on the “more discerning customer”.
“We cater for people that want to get the right gear. Often people end up making the wrong choices before they realise that it’s crucial to get the right footwear, to know how to wear and fit a pack, and what you should take and what you should leave behind on a tramp.
“If your feet are sore, your shoulders hurt and the pack’s too heavy, you’re not thinking ‘cool, let’s book the next one’, you’re thinking ‘man, I’m never doing that again’.”
Ben says the dominance of large chain retailers makes it difficult for new independent stores to enter the market.
“When we first started, the big-box model didn’t exist. Now the balance is completely out.
“We are the only independent retailer in Auckland City now.
“I’m really thankful and appreciative of our customers for voting for us and happy to receive this kind of acknowledgement to reward us for all the hard work we do.”