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Final days for golf and tennis shop

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After 31 years in business The Upstairs Golf and Tennis Shop, on Church Street, will close its doors on Friday.

It is in the final stages of a closing out sale with its remaining items heavily discounted.

The shop is a casualty of a big drop in customers; a drop that coincided with the departure of thousands of guest workers from the island following the economic downturn that took hold around 2008.

“The exodus of the expat customers has had a big effect,” said Alan Douglas, who has been manager since 1989.

The closure of the prime golfing store comes only a few months after Riddell's Bay Golf and Country Club shut down, which at the time prompted golf professional Alex Madeiros to comment that the island's diminished population was causing some clubs to feel the pinch.

Despite having no storefront, The Upstairs Golf and Tennis Shop has been popular with locals for the past three decades. A small doorway opposite the city bus terminal leads to a flight of stairs and the first floor premises, where golfing equipment and accessories are the predominant items. A smaller portion of the shop is given over to tennis gear.

Having no street presence has not been an issue for the business, which opened in 1985. Mr Douglas explained: “Our customer base was local, and locals knew how to find us.”

During the shop's early days it also attracted customers from Europe looking to get their hands on the latest golfing equipment from the US.

The business had a reputation for stocking the widest range of golf equipment and golf-related paraphernalia on the island and having a knowledgeable staff. Mr Douglas is a keen golfer who is a past president of the Ocean View Golf Club.

He said the shop was once very popular. He has seen a lot of changes and trends in the intervening years. Back in 1989 the shop still sold wooden drivers, before the rise in popularity of metal drivers from brands such as Callaway and Ping.

“The drivers have all changed and got bigger,” he said. Golf balls have also evolved with todays having a harder centre to help them travel further.

The shop did much to differentiate itself from others, especially online retailers.

“We had the ability to get the new equipment. Customers could get their hands on the newest clubs on the market,” said Mr Douglas.

Customers also had the opportunity to take a driver out to try before buying. And the shop had a club repair and adjustment service.

But the business hit hard times towards the end of the 2000s as the island's economy shrank.

Mr Douglas believes the departure of expats was a key factor, with sales starting to slide around 2009 when the economic recession began. He said the effect has been more apparent as time has moved on.

“The sales started to drop and there was not much we could do,” he said.

The decision to close the business was taken a few months ago. The shop has been running down its stock with a closing out sale featuring heavily discounted golf and tennis items.

“We've had a lot of people coming in to get the stuff that's discounted.”

Now nearing retirement, Mr Douglas feels some sadness that the business is closing. “I'm going to miss it. I've enjoyed interacting with customers.”

Closing out: Alan Douglas, manager of The Upstairs Golf and Tennis Shop since 1989. The Church Street business, which opened in 1985, will close at the end of this week (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
How it was: Zoe Oliver at the opening of The Upstairs Golf and Tennis Shop in December 1985

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Published June 28, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 27, 2016 at 8:34 pm)

Final days for golf and tennis shop

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