FIVE years ago this month, Tony Baynes opened his Open Air outdoor clothing and footwear business at Main Street, Castlebar, write Tom Gillespie.
He was, in fact, continuing a family tradition going back over 50 years.
Tony is the oldest of a family of five, and his mother, Margaret, opened Moderne ladies drapery in 1959, and his father, Tony, Moderne shoe shop, next door, the following year.
Tony took up the story: “I opened the business five years ago this month. I took it over from my mother who was here for over 50 years.
“It was left to me when she passed away in 2012 so I decided to open a business and see how it goes. I went for the outdoor sector with clothing and footwear and a small bit of fishing tackle.
“It has been a tough five years. The recession and online shopping has not helped.
“But I am lucky I do not have to pay any rent and I have no staff to pay and I can tell you if I had rent and staff to pay, the door would be closed. But it gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
Tony, a keen angler, continued: “I do outdoor and waterproof clothing. I carry the Regatta brand, the Target Dry brand and Deer Hunter outdoor clothing for the shooters in the winter months.
“I do a range of clothing from the HI-TEC walking, hiking summer wear for warmth. I do their footwear as well which is going well for me.
“The only brand of footwear, shoes and boots I do is HI-TEC. They all have a waterproof membrane to keep the feet dry and have a nice cross-section of leather and suede finishes with a nice range of sole units for the different types of terrain that people go walking on.”
The best selling brands at Open Air are Target and HI-TEC. “People who are into the outdoors can identify with those brands,” Tony says.
He also carries a range of Stanley flasks, binoculars, knives, dog belts and end-of-line fishing tackle and trout flies.
Tony added: “I was born and bred in a business environment. I have gone the full circle after being 30 years away from it when I worked in a financial institution in the east and midlands.
“Back then my father said, get out and look after yourself. I have only four more to look after. In 1978 you could have got a job in the county council, the civil service or the bank. There were great opportunities then. But today they are all gone. They don’t exist now. Unless you have a third-level degree you won’t get a job.”
When the opportunity presented itself Tony come back to the business in Castlebar.
Next month’s Castlebar International Walking Festival (July 4 to 7) sees a band of loyal customers visit Tony.
He said: “Where the walkers come to Castlebar each year for the walking festival I get the same customers coming into me every year. They come in, look around and purchase maybe a sweater or a pair of socks. They don’t buy footwear as such because they have their own footwear for the walks.
“The walking festival is a nice boost to my business at the beginning of July.
“The walkers like coming here because they know the brands and that they will get quality in brands they would be familiar with.”
The Baynes name is on Main Street going back three to four generations and in the same building under the family name.
Tony stated: “My father was very involved with fishing over the years. He was chairman of the Lough Carra Anglers and was involved in local fishing clubs. I am chairman of the Castlebar Anglers’ Association, so we still carry on the fishing tradition.
“I see people passing who would have been customers of my mother and they look up to see where the premises was.”
The Open Air outdoor outlet is located at Main Street, Castlebar, and can be contacted on (094) 9022021.
* Do you have a story to tell about your business? If so, Tom Gillespie would be delighted to hear from you. Get in touch at (087) 9680780 or email@example.com.