Santa Rosa outdoors store to relocate, focus on clothing, footwear

[caption id="attachment_87164" align="alignnone" width="500"] Sonoma Outfitters' new store in Montgomery Village shopping center will be half the size of the current store, shown here. (photo credit: Jay Knick)[/caption]

SANTA ROSA -- Sonoma Outfitters has been on the same corner of Railroad Square for a quarter century, but the boats, backpacks and other outdoors recreational equipment won't be making the voyage this spring to the new location in an upscale-oriented shopping center on the east side of the city.

By May 1, the 37-year-old retailer (707-528-1920, is set to move from the 15,000-square-foot store at 145 Third St. to occupy four storefronts totaling 7,200 square feet in Montgomery Village, an open-air "lifestyle" center on Farmers Lane at Sonoma Avenue.

No longer will the store be selling canoes, kayaks, rock-climbing gear, backpacks, tents and other equipment, according to co-owner Jay Knick, 66. Instead, the focus will be on higher-margin specialty outdoor clothing and footwear as well as accessories for travelers and day-hikers. Key brands include Rohnert Park-based Marmot, The North Face, Ecco, Keen, Merrill and Ugg.

So, there's no need for a large warehouse to store the boats preseason to get better manufacturer terms and store space for an indoor climbing wall.

"Last summer we had a good boating season and sold a lot of boats for the first time in several years, but when we figured out what we made it was not worth it," he said.

The location on the east side of Magowan Drive in Montgomery Village better fits the target shopper for Sonoma Outfitters, according Mr. Knick.

"Our customers are a little older and love to hike and love to travel and are willing to spend a extra dollars for better clothing," he said. "It's difficult to get people to come down here."

When the store moved to Third Street from Fourth Street in 1990, it attracted shoppers driving from a wide area to buy specialty equipment, Mr. Knick said. But sales have fallen off with the arrival of larger competitors in the market and e-commerce as well as ebbing demand for backpacking gear.

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