JIMMY Black (pictured) has succeeded where many others have failed: integrating a bricks-andmortarretail store with an online presence. And he has done it all from Burleigh Heads.
Black, 34, founded Wild Earth, a camping and hiking equipment retailer in 2006. The company this year turned over $5 million.
“What we do different is that our model has highlighted the move to online, but we have retained the bricks-and-mortar shop more as a showroom for our online products," says Black.
Online is certainly the focus for Wild Earth. This year, Black finished a $50,000 upgrade of the company’s computer system which he hopes will allow for increased growth in the years to come.
“We will be able to focus more on what we do best, selling our product range and that will help double our growth within 18months to two years,” says Black.
Black fell into the retail industry by chance. He is a qualified accountant, but says he “can’t stand” accounting.
“I stumbled onto selling things online through eBay,” he says.
The ease at which he was offloading products on the online auction site encouraged him to leave the accounting business and set up a retail operation.
Black also noticed a gap in the camping and hiking market that he sensed was unfilled.
“There are brands like Kathmandu making gear for the top-end of the market and a number of other brands with middle-end products, but no one was focusing on the lower-to-mid level range,” he says.
“I have spent a lot of time focusing on developing a core range of value-for money camping and hiking equipment.”
Black says 10 per cent of his sales are exports.
“We are currently the only ones really exporting a lot of the unique Aussiebranded bulky camping gear like swags.
Entry into other countries is difficult forother retailers, but our logistical system is pretty well streamlined and very efficient now,” he says.
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