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Wellington Snowgum

Stacey and I were in town earlier today, a couple of hours before the Tip Top Santa Parade, and we noticed that a Snowgum [1] Clearance Shop seems to have opened in the Grand Arcade. Snowgum is an Australian outdoor retail outlet which also has retailers in Christchurch and Auckland. The new Wellington Clearance outlet is hidden underneath the escalators, in the same place where Mainly Tramping used to be before it closed down. (In fact, the old Mainly Tramping banner is still above the door.) It mostly seems to be clothes and footwear at the moment.

Whether it’ll stay as a permanent fixture and become a complete Snowgum outlet, or simply remain a temporary clearance outlet, is an open question. I asked one of the people there and she wasn’t completely sure, but she thought they were testing Wellington at the moment to see how it goes and what sort of reaction there is. Perhaps it’ll help to fill part of the void of outdoor retailers at the moment, which has existed since Mainly Tramping and Tisdalls closed down.

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "Wellington Snowgum"

#1 Comment By Maple Kiwi On 17 November, 2008 @ 10:05 am

Cool – I’ll have to go have a peek. Not that I need any MORE gear. Must stop shopping… Start tramping instead…

#2 Comment By Robb On 17 November, 2008 @ 10:02 pm

Kia ora Mike,
I thought I would comment here, although most of my words pertain to your enjoyable post on the purchase of your new sleeping bag a while back. It is a tough market out there these days, and since the well known Kiwi brands, Fairy Down, MacPac, K2, are no longer made here in NZ, I personally, have no loyalty whatsoever to any brand. I find what I think will work best for me, period.
When I moved here in 1993 and started seriously getting into the hills, MacPac was still NZ made. It was only this year I had to replace my original Cascade pack with the Deuter pack I used for the first time on my last trip. I still have the MacPac Solstice sleeping bag, now 9 years old still going strong. Most of the time it is too warm, as I am a hot sleeper, but it has kept me snuggly warm on cold Ruahine winter nights when others have struggled. My old MacPac reflex jacket has also stood the test of time. My MacPac Apollo tent has been flawless. I guess my point is that was brand loyalty for a product that has served me well. Being made in NZ I felt was very important. I was willing to pay more, and did so back then, for a better product and it has proved a wise decision.
I probably will have to buy another jacket shortly but will be guided by the principles of what made this one work. If it is a MacPac or not makes little difference to me now, as with the pack.
The market has certainly become watered down with lots of choice and lots of “systems”. Hydration systems, footwear systems, harness systems, ect. Probably more complicated than it needs to be, but that is marketing in the ever competitve world of gear.
Great post Mike. I enjoy your place here, very cool. Keep on truckin’.

#3 Comment By Mike McGavin On 18 November, 2008 @ 8:25 pm

Hi Robb.

Thanks for the thoughts, as always. I wouldn’t consider that I have much more brand loyalty to Macpac/Fairydown/Mouton-Noir at the moment, at least than anyone else, and this is largely for the reasons you mention. Locally manufactured things have a feel-good aspect, but they’re also often more responsive to locals. I haven’t been around long enough to appreciate this first-hand with Macpac, but I’ve been told that it used to be very easy to ask for customised version of any of their gear (eg. getting pack A with feature B similar to what pack C has, but please tighten it more than that one by X amount), and they’d happily do it for a small surcharge. A friend of mine reckons you can still get this kind of response from companies like [8] (based on Christchurch), although I’ve never tried.

Mouton Noir is based in NZ, but at the moment it feels as if they may as well not be — they manufacture overseas and target overseas markets. I realise this is a commercial reality these days, and good luck to them in their business. From my own perspective, however, I can’t see much reason to treat them differently from other businesses that also happen to focus on the international market with NZ getting things that are generic. I don’t feel the same way towards smaller local businesses which have weathered the storm and still have strict policies about keeping things local, such as [8] (as I mentioned above), [9] and [10] to name the obvious ones that come to mind. I have to admit, though, that I unfortunately don’t own much from these manufacturers because it’s sometimes difficult to get and does tend to be on the more expensive side when it’s available.

Macpac produced a sleeping bag that seems to match what I want more than anything currently available in shops, and that’s why I bought it. Part of my problem, though, is that there isn’t much more to choose from right now. The variety comes from having retailers that are independent from the products. I don’t know about where you are, but down here we’re losing retailers who aren’t closely attached in some way to the products they sell. Mainly Tramping and Tisdalls were two excellent outdoor shops that we had locally up until 18 months ago, which were forced out of the market by the intense competition from much larger and more generic retail-manufacturers who’ve wanted to push their way in. The new retailers directly represent specific brands. This lets the manufacturers get directly to buyers and it might lower prices a little and help as a business model by making it easier to force their products down consumers’ throats at street level, but at the expense of independent retailers who have more of a choice about what they stock and sell. For me as a consumer in a small market that can’t support too many outlets, it removes the variety that’s available when manufacturers force their way in. Right now there’s one retailer left in Wellington which still employs staff such that I feel I could walk in and have an informed and fair discussion about the stuff they’re selling, and believe I’m getting reasonably neutral and informed opinions about it. I guess that Snowgum is another generic retail-brander, but I suppose I’m still hoping that it’ll improve things a little given that everything’s already broken.

And I agree with you about the whole marketing thing. I’m sick of hearing about each manufacturer’s proprietary technologies which supposedly do brilliant things without any information about what they actually are, how they really work and how it compares with others. Often it’s impossible to know for sure how effective something will be without actually paying for it. Names change so frequently and are so brand-specific and information is withheld so much that finding useful reviews or making comparisons is near impossible.

#4 Comment By Adrian On 18 December, 2008 @ 9:30 am

Hi Mike,
I also visited Snowgum and was dissapointed I don’t believe they will last but time will tell. They are basically a discount clothing outlet.
I have just started getting back into tramping and I agree with your comments on knowledgeable staff in Wgtn. I remember talking to a shop assistant who had never heard of “Garmont” boots.
I stumbled upon your blog and just thought I’d let you know that its good reading and I enjoy it. Its also giving me good ideas for that next tramp.

#5 Comment By Mike McGavin On 19 December, 2008 @ 7:28 am

Hi Adrian.

Yeah, I went in and had a look for the second time yesterday at lunch time, and it hasn’t changed from the look it had a day after it opened. (Actually now I’m wondering if it’d been open for weeks before I noticed it.) It’s still basically a clearance outlet for stuff that’s overflowing from elsewhere. I guess I was hoping it might have morphed into something that looked a bit more stable by now, rather than something where all the racks and cardboard boxes full of stuff could be wheeled into a truck and taken away overnight. I’ve never really seen Snowgum so I don’t know what the real ones look like.

Anyway, I did manage to buy a nice shirt at the Snowgum clearance outlet for a wedding I had to go to. This was good because previously I’ve had to wear my good tramping gear to weddings, which I loathe because there’s a risk of spilling things and getting it all dirty and stained and such, although it’s all I own in reasonable condition since I wear it less often than my Monday to Friday things. Now, however, I can wear my wedding gear when I go tramping and show it off.