Ask the Expert – Anthony Reynolds at Reynolds Outdoor Centre

21 February 2018

FOR more than 150 years the Reynolds name has been synonymous with Sunderland.

It may have changed slightly over the years, updated its look and changed some of what it sells, but its traditional values remain the same as they always were.

“We’ve been here 150 years and it would be nice to think we could be here another 150,” said Anthony Reynolds, who runs the Derwent Street store. “The face of Sunderland has changed so dramatically in the last 20 years, but it’s still the only place we’d ever want to be.

“We are a family business which has evolved and moved with the times and we continue to do so, but for us, being here in this city centre is the most important thing. We wouldn’t really want to change that.”

The shop continues to sell the military surplus clothing and accessories which are part of its heritage, but now also stocks outdoor pursuit clothing, equipment and gifts.

As a niche trader, it also has a big online presence, but Mr Reynolds points out that while the e-commerce side of operations is important, offering customers the personal touch is something which can’t be beaten.

“We do well online, but I don’t think anything can compare to coming into a shop and seeing and touching things. You look at a load of items on a website and they all start to look the same after a while, but if you’re in the shop and can physically look at what you’re buying, then that’s always a good thing.

“I don’t think online shopping will ever replace that. What shoppers get from visiting their local independent businesses is something they’ll never get from the internet.”

So what keeps the Reynolds family in Sunderland? “We’re born and bred here, so we’d not really think about moving. There’s nowhere in the area which could offer what Sunderland does.

 “Our business has stood the test of time here, and although it hasn’t always been easy, we’ve come through every obstacle. I think you have to just adapt to the times and even in today’s climate there is plenty of scope for small businesses to do well.

“This city has character, it has something that other places don’t and I genuinely believe if we can get more independent businesses into the city then we can become a hub for small traders, and put Sunderland back on the map.”