Online sports stores have taken a bite out of local shops

St. John’s shops try to adapt to cyber retail landscape

Nicholas Conway

Maverick Sports and Collectables. Man Standing at counter
For local sport stores like Andrew Corbett’s Maverick Sports and Collectibles, business isn’t what it used to be. They are, however, still holding their own . Nicholas Conway/Kicker

When fans think of buying team memorabilia, they might think of the local mom-and-pop store. The small, quiet shop where everyone knows each other and everything is personalized. But in today’s climate, things are changing.

Andrew Corbett is the owner of Maverick Sports and Collectibles in downtown St. John’s. He says online stores have affected his business.

“A lot of times it’s easy for someone just at home to jump on the computer, plug in what they’re looking for and order it up from Amazon,” he said.

Despite the increasing popularity of online shopping, Corbett remains optimistic about his business. He believes the personalized experience of being in a real store is enough to keep his doors open – for now.

“Unfortunately it’s just the way the world is moving.”

Andrew doesn’t shy away from e-business entirely. He sells less than five per cent of his stock on the store’s online web page. He and his employees also sell trading cards on E-Bay, some of which can sell for up to $30,000.

“I think just the personal touch [is important] and the being able to get exactly what you need, when you need it . There’s always gonna be a need for a physical store,” said Corbett while beaming a smile.

Maverick Sports and Collectibles is just one of many sports-oriented stores around St. John’s dealing with the problem of e-business.

Formerly known as Sportscraft, the shop has found it difficult to keep up with the ever-growing internet marketplace. Mark Crocker, a spokesperson for the store, says that the majority of people in the province have shifted their mentality when shopping for sports equipment.

“It’s been a detriment to local business,”Crocker. “People seem more and more willing to purchase things online as oppose to a traditional brick-and-mortar store.

“Unfortunately it’s just the way the world is moving”

Crocker also believes it’s the personal experience that’s sets them apart from online retailers. Going to a store and knowing a trusted source to buy from, he said, helps the local economy flow and keeps money inside the province.

“When you buy from here you help put the people who work here [pay for their] kids in minor sports programs,” Crocker said.

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