Carlyle – Ron’s The Work Wear Store Ltd. took it on the chin early in the current oil downturn, closing its Estevan store in September 2016 after nearly three decades in business. Since then they’ve been able to make a go of it with their two other stores, Carlyle and Weyburn.
Martin Tourand runs the Carlyle store, a family operation. “That was a hard decision. We were there 27 years. I started that store, and ran it several years,” he said of the Estevan closure.
As for now, he said on Jan. 11, “We’ve come through it fairly well. The last 14 months, we increased sales every month except December.”
He attributed the discrepancy to the fact December 2016 was very cold, and thus had greater sales than December 2017, which was comparatively mild.
More recently, he said it’s been a little busier, but he doesn’t expect it to be much busier until the end of January, and the men going back to work need to get some pay in their pockets.
He’s seeing the impact of improving oil prices. That morning, one client came in and bought 25 hardhats for new hires.
I’m cautiously optimistic. It looks and sounds like it’ll be busy. Last night we saw US$63 oil. As long as it stays…” he said.
Throughout nearly all sectors, companies demanded vendors lower their prices as oil prices fell. Now those prices are rebounding slowly. In that regard, Tourand said, “We ended up not raising our prices at all. But we can’t buy in the same volumes anymore.
“We’re eating it,” he said of the difference.
They’ve had to mind their P’s and Q’s, he noted, watching staffing levels and inventory. But while many sectors in the oilpatch have reduced inventory on hand to next to nothing, that doesn’t work for a store selling gloves and boots. “We have to have inventory. You can’t sell off an empty shelf,” Tourand said.