Friday, August 5, 2011

Visit to Top Gear Sport, Upington

 “The (retail) cake is NOT getting smaller,” confirms Dappie van der Ryst, “and competition helps to grow it. My turnover has tripled since Tekkie Town opened closed by.”
He’s outgoing and exudes optimism.

Rugby was the common denominator when Springbok Pieter (Slap Tjips) Rossouw, current Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie (in Ceres), Tersius Gilliomee in George, and Van der Ryst in Upington founded the Top Gear stores at the end of the last century. And rugby is still a passion that he nurtures amongst the youngsters in Upington through coaching at the local schools and the establishment of the Top Gear team, consisting of players from various non-rugby-playing primary schools, coached by one of his staff members.

Although fully aware that the community actually supports soccer, Van der Ryst’s enthusiastic promotion of rugby seems to typify his optimistic approach to life. But, the floods earlier this year before the full grape harvest was in, did affect everybody in the community – with the farmers no longer coming to town to pick up labourers, the buying power just became so much smaller.

Sport and lifestyle shoes is a big market for him – and his wide selection of brands and styles for all sports ensures that he’ll probably have stock when a customer comes looking for something specific.  But clothes and replica are slow sellers, he says. “In four months I sold one Cheetah jersey.”

Eager to improve and grow business, he’s always keeping an eye and ear out for new opportunities or advice – for example, a sales rep advised him how to display footwear – and really appreciates the agents that do take the trouble to come and visit his store. “You always tend to buy more when someone pays a personal visit,” he says.

Dappie van der Ryst of Top Gear Sport in Upington


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