Australian apparel brand Sambag to close its first store

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Sambag Facebook/Sambag

Sydney apparel and accessories brand Sambag is closing its first store, but the brand is expected to still be available online. The independent retailer’s founder has reportedly said that “retail is not like what it used to be.”

Sambag owner and creative director Samantha Wagner has decided that “it’s too hard to compete anymore,” Inside Retail reports. Wagner started the bag and ballet flat brand in Paddington Markets in 1996 and opened her first store in 2005 in the Sydney suburb of Woollahra.

A Facebook post states that the store in Woollahra will close this month. “Our first store is sadly closing on 15th April please make sure to drop in before close,” it reads. Another post states that the last day of trading for Woollahra store will be on April 18.

Some customers asked where the store is moving to. Daily Mail Australia reports Wagner as saying “closed, you can still purchase online.”

Wagner released a statement to customers and thanked those who had been loyal to the brand over the past 22 years. She said Sambag has been an enormous part of her life.

“It has been a rollercoaster - ups and downs, successes and failures, achievements and overcoming hurdles - and I have truly loved every minute of it,” she said in the statement, according to Ragtrader. Wagner also stated that she must now bid farewell to a chapter in her life, one that has shaped her as a person. The announcement leaves her joining other household names struggling because of the changing retail environment.

Wagner said was proud to have set up a strong international and online business during its years of operation. Reports at that time suggest that by 2012, her 12 stores and online shop were averaging $7 million in sales per year.

Through Ray White Commercial, Sambag’s 40 square metre Woollahra shopfront is up for lease. Its listing describes the corner location as "a great opportunity for both established and start up businesses" with high foot traffic and a five-minute walk to Bondi Junction. Cost of rent is still unclear as the information is not disclosed in the advertisement. Similar retail spaces in the area have leased for $50,000 plus per year.

Sambag has three locations in New South Wales and Queensland. It also has an online store. The iconic fashion brand was worn by Australian models Elle Macpherson and Jennifer Hawkins.