Citing the difficulty of operating as a small specialty store, WallerBears Surf Shop is closing in south Charlotte after more than 18 years in business.
Barrett Cornelison, who opened the 3,600 square-foot shop in 1998, said the store’s lease in the McMullen Creek Shopping Center ends at the end of January. An exact closing date hasn’t been set. The store will hold a clearance sale to get rid of its inventory over the next several weeks, Cornelison said.
“Small specialty retail, I feel like, is impossible. I’m not sure it can be done anymore,” said Cornelison, who modeled his store after his parent’s WallerBears shop in Myrtle Beach. That store closed in August.
Specialty retailers like WallerBears, Cornelison said, have to maintain higher profit margins given their costs to operate. That’s become increasingly difficult because of online shopping and competition from other, bigger retailers.
“It’s not pleasant. It’s just the obvious decision,” Cornelison said of closing.
WallerBears sells surfboards, snowboards, wakeboards, skateboards, clothing and skating and hockey equipment. The Charlotte location currently employs nine people, two of whom are full-time, Cornelison said.
When he opened the local shop, Cornelison, 51, said at the time there was an untapped demand for surfing apparel and equipment in Charlotte, including hip, decorated skateboard wheels.
Cornelison has a background in accounting and worked for years at Belk. He said he’ll likely get back into accounting in some capacity, but ahead of that, for now, he’s “just going to catch my breath.”