Five years in business is surely a sufficient length of time to merit the title “established business”. Since its inception in July 2008, Outdoor Sports has become just that.
Opening its doors to the public on July 28, 2008 Outdoor Sports, located in the Mullingar Business Park, has evolved from humble beginnings into the Midlands’ largest outdoor pursuits retail store. This unique shop with an eclectic mix of merchandise is delighted to be celebrating five successful years in business.
Set up amidst a flood of bad news from failing banks, high unemployment to colossal bail outs, Des Mulvihill, a Longford native and owner of Outdoor Sports, failed to allow the negative climate drown his resolve and determination.
So where did the idea of opening an outdoor pursuits shop in Mullingar originate? An unlikely source. Searching for a quality sleeping bag to keep him warm on one of his motorbike trips, Des could not find a decent one in Mullingar. On that fateful road trip, however Des had a motorbike accident, falling from his bike, landing on his shoulder and dislocating it. He was lucky with the extent of his injuries. However ironically this was a sort of road to Damascus. Des had been seeking an opportunity to set up his own business for some years and hadn’t quite settled on anything definitive. With the memory of his fruitless search for a sleeping bag coupled with an enforced four-week break from work as a result of his injuries, Des decided he was going to open an outdoor pursuits shop in Mullingar.
Des got to work. He travelled the length and breadth of Ireland (by car this time) to see what other retailers were doing. He sought support from family members. Des’ brother David Mulvihill has a long established gun shop in Ballymahon, and generously agreed to stock his brother’s new shop with a broad range of shotguns and rifles. Des’ mother Ita Muvlihill kindly agreed to guarantee Des’ business loan. Without the support of family this venture would not have happened.
Outdoor living enthusiasts
Des knows a thing or two about living the outdoor life. When he and his wife Áine moved to Mullingar first they joined that well-known institution, the Mullingar Sub Aqua Club. Both quickly became keen divers, diving all over the west coast of Ireland and further afield to the more exotic shores of the Red Sea and even the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand.
From the sea bed to the mountain peak, Des spent 10 days climbing the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, sleeping in tents on the hard mountain rock surface and drinking the sweetest tea Des had ever tasted brewed by the kind, local Bedouins to boost the weary travellers.
That’s not all. Ever the water baby and adventurer, Des mastered the art of wakeboarding; no mean feat! He purchased a speed boat, recruited a few friends to take turns driving, and spent many an enjoyable evening on the shores of Lough Deravarra.
So where does he get the time to be so active? Well the ironic and unintended consequence of owning an outdoor pursuits shop is that it leaves very little time for enjoying the very activities he is trying to promote. A six-day week can be gruelling but with a professional team in place to meet the needs of an ever-expanding business there is always someone on hand to manage when he wants to enjoy a day out on the lake.
Brendan O’Neill, also a Ballymahon native, has been the general manager in Outdoor Sports for the past two years. A keen kayaker, shooter, and all-round happy camper, at this stage it could be said that Brendan knows the business better than Des.
Being able to delegate responsibility for the day-to-day running of the shop has freed up some of Des’ time and allowed him to focus on creating a new e-commerce website www.outdoorsports.ie, which went live three weeks ago. Now customers can purchase every item in the shop online. It took a mammoth amount of work but Des is optimistic that the investment of time, energy, and expertise will pay dividends and open up Outdoor Sports to customers beyond the Midlands and indeed beyond the island of Ireland.
“Feedback from online customers has been positive and we hope to constantly develop and update our website,” says Des.
Keep an eye on the site for upcoming promotions and events. Currently all orders taken online are discounted by 15 per cent; just enter the promo code ‘outdoor’ at the checkout.
One-stop shop for outdoor activities
Outdoor Sports sells a wide range of goods to ensure maximum enjoyment of your favourite outdoor activity. It has become the local one-stop shop for everyone who enjoys being outdoors, whether it’s a stroll in the park or a more adventurous mountain escapade.
A family-run business, Outdoor Sports sells clothing and equipment for a variety of activities including:
Hill walking/ hiking/ mountain climbing
Scuba diving/ kayaking/ water sports
Shooting/ hunting/ archery
Outdoor Sports is a proud agent for high quality clothing brands including North Face, Berghaus, Jack Wolfskin, and Columbia; camping brands Gelert and Coleman; footwear specialists Meindl; and hunting brands Deerhunter, Aigle, and Seeland. The 5,000 square foot retail outlet boasts a wide range of merchandise to meet your needs including a fully stocked gun room with a huge range of new and second hand rifle and shotguns and ammunition.
The staff prides itself in the expert advice given to customers with passion and enthusiasm.
Members of staff are always on hand to help customers select the most suitable products and are delighted to discuss the benefits and technical aspects of clothing footwear and equipment. “Our expertise not only comes from regular product training but also from first hand use of our merchandise,” maintains Des
Next on Des’ plans is to climb the highest mountain in Western Europe, Mount Blanc, in July/ August 2014. He has started training already for this feat, regularly climbing the more humble peaks in Ireland such as Sliabh Donnard, Carrantouhill, and Croagh Patrick to name a few, and is preparing a busy winter climbing schedule. Des would be happy to discuss any hiking questions with customers. Outdoor Sports stocks a wide range of OS maps in store.
So what is the five year business plan? It’s difficult to say. “We expect the launch of the website will expand our customer base and take the business in a new direction but it takes time,” says Des.
“We will certainly continue our commitment to supplying the best equipment and clothing to the outdoor enthusiast. The longer we are in business, the better the business becomes. We know that if a product does not sell well it is not worth continuing but if we get positive feedback from customers, we will continue to stock that product and more products from that label. It’s a sort of survival of the fittest. The best quality merchandise survives.”
The very survival of Outdoor Sports perfectly demonstrates Darwin’s theory!