AUSTIN (KXAN) — Zinger Hardware & General Merchant is closing its doors after 15 years in business. The owner says the innovative spirit that attracted him to Austin has simultaneously led to his store’s demise.
Michael Ferweda, the store’s owner, sold household goods and toys from about 100 independent manufacturers and artisans. “It was clever solutions to everyday problems,” says Ferweda.
The prices may have been a bit higher, but he hoped the shopping experience was worth it. “I think people really wanted to know about products, how they worked, there was a sensibility that I think has changed; there was a paradigm shift in consumer buying.”
Ferweda says online retailers like Amazon took root quickly in Austin and his customer base has declined as a result. “We [have] become more of a gallery or maybe a museum,” Ferweda jokes. He says traffic has certainly played a role as has higher rent.
“I love the fact that we’re seeing growth and we’re seeing really fun things happen. What’s sad is that we’re losing the sensibility of what Austin used to be about,” says Ferweda. He tries to be optimistic about the future, though. He’s trying to adapt his business model and will continue to sell inventory online.
This isn’t the first time Ferweda has responded to retail challenges; he moved his store from Anderson Lane to its current location on North Lamar Boulevard 10 years ago after a Walmart opened across the street.
What’s it going to be like to close up shop for good now? “Whew. [I’ll] tear up, it’ll be all the emotions all over again in one short moment, but we have to accept that it’s over and we’re going to move forward and we’re going to do the best we can.”
This story is part of a series KXAN’s Sydney Benter is covering on the changes happening in Austin from music to development. Read the rest of her stories here.