Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Online, boots and all

Gumboots are a click away for Echuca residents.

ALEXANDRA BATHMAN June 24, 2014 3:30am

Briana, Tyler and Jack Creed and Jemma and Mady Robins model the Aussie Gumboots kids’ range.

Echuca-owned business Aussie Gumboots closed its front door to open a window of a different kind.

Despite the use of the internet among consumers, the latest statistics show less than half of Australian businesses have an online presence.

While only a small number of businesses are taking advantage of the online market, Aussie Gumboots has ditched the shopfront in favour of online retail.

Business owner Ian Phillips, 60, said he was surprised by the influx of online shoppers.

‘‘I didn’t think it would work. My wife Nina first came up with the idea three years ago and I said, ‘You’ve got to be joking’,’’ Mr Phillips said.

‘‘I think she was more up with it all.’’

The business’ foundation goes back before the internet existed — way back to 1874 when Victoria’s population boomed from 430000 to nearly two million people.

Mr Phillips’ great-great-grandfather was a cobbler and took advantage of the extra pairs of shoes needed by migrating from England to Melbourne.

‘‘I’m not philosophical about it. I just happened to have grown up with shoes,’’ Mr Phillips said.

The family business slowly sold parts of the brand to businesses such as Rivers and Riverina Shoes in Echuca.

‘‘Over the years, the family has made every sort of shoe. We were then left with gumboots,’’ Mr Phillips said.

Aussie Gumboots now sells gumboot designs suitable for farmers, fashionistas and all members of the family, and wholesales to other companies in Australia and New Zealand.

The Phillipses design the boots to be manufactured offshore in China, allowing the business to have an extensive range.

‘‘We have such a huge variety and the local store can’t afford to have all the products in-store,’’ Mr Phillips said.

‘‘People can’t access stores in many parts of the nation such as the Northern Territory, but the consumer is happy to buy online.’’

However, running an online store wasn’t as simple as a click of a button for the Phillipses.

‘‘The biggest challenge is online stores are seven days a week. If I don’t work over the weekend I’ll be snowed under.’’

After rising at 3am to sort through orders, Mr and Mrs Phillips often continue working through to 8pm — it seems the World Wide Web has no front door to close.

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