After six years in operation, retail outlet The Booth will be shutting its doors for good on July 31. In an exclusive interview with Bermuda Sun, owner Darren Booth says he has no choice but to take the blame for the closure.
“I could very easily point fingers and blame things like the recession or the cost of rent, but the truth is I made some business mistakes,” he says.
Mr Booth says one of his errors was moving into the new section of the Washington Mall four years ago, next to the Beluga Bar on the first floor.
“Initially, I was selling bags and luggage at Heel Quik, which I also own. I also had a small clothing store in the original part of Washington Mall. I decided to move the luggage and the clothing into the new store but expected the revenue to remain the same. But the foot traffic in the new mall is not very good. The mall is trying to bring people into the new part but people seem to like to stick to the old side.”
Mr. Booth added: “It was naïve of me to think that I could move into the new location and think that people would follow me. I’ve had rent reductions and have used the tax breaks given to retailers by the Government. If it was not for those things I would have closed down three years ago.”
The entrepreneur also says while the recession was a factor, the number of people leaving the island also played a role.
“Bermuda has seen an exodus of people leaving the Island as well. What we sell here are not essential goods so they don’t have to buy them.”
Mr. Booth says the Internet and the mentality that Bermudians can find better prices for items overseas does not help.
“I’ve had people come in here and tell me that they like what I have to offer, then pull out their phones and take a picture and tell me that they are going away to see if they can find it. It’s that mentality of ‘I’ll get it when I go away’. That and shopping on the Internet, you just can’t compete.”
Admitting that having to close The Booth does “hurt inside”, Mr Booth says consumers have not heard the last from him. He will restock Heel Quik with bags and luggage and plans on opening a pop up version of the The Booth during the months of November and December for the holiday season. He will also continue to sell whatever merchandise he has left over online once the store closes next month.
He explains: “We have a very active Facebook account and customers can continue to purchase merchandise on there. If they see something they want, they can call me or send me an email and I will bring the goods in to Heel Quik for them to take a look at and purchase if they like.”
Currently, The Booth is having a buy one, get half off the next one of all clothing sale and will offer greater bargains as July 31 draws nearer.
And does he have any regrets? “Yes, sometimes I tend to be impulsive when I don’t need to be. I need to learn to give up quicker if I need to. Sometimes I can be persistent. I would have had less debt if I let go of this sooner.”
But Mr. Booth says consumers have not heard the last of him. Once he has paid off his debts, he says he will consider opening another store in the future.
He has this message to his loyal customers: “I gave it the best shot that I could.”