Selling out after 35 years

THIRTY-FIVE years since they began their business in "a broom cupboard" in Lawson St, the owners of the successful Byron Bay business Cape Byron Imports are shutting shop.

Rick and Gayle Hultgren have sold their wholesale water-sport product business to Sperling Pty Ltd, who will absorb the company into its Sydney base.

It marks the end of an era for the Hultgrens, who over three and a half decades have expanded their customer base to more then 2500 stores in Australia and the South Pacific.

The business, which supplies snorkels, wetsuits, bodyboards and fins, as well as its own products including Mirage, SeaZone and Hydra, now fills a 3000sq m warehouse in the Byron Bay Industrial Estate and employs 25 people.

The Hultgrens said they were sad to finish up but felt it was the right time to sell.

Three of their 25 employees will transfer to Sperling.

They were disappointed the business could not stay in Byron Bay, especially as 22 people will be out of work, but are excited by the new direction their business is taking.

They are thrilled their long-term customers will still be provided with the products they have developed over 35 years.

The Hultgrens say their new life will still be in very much in Byron, where they will spend more time with the morning swimmers and cyclists, hanging out at Fishheads and taking Latin dancing lessons from their daughter.

Rick even plans to improve his unicycle skills at his daughter's neighbouring business, Circus Arts, so that he can compete with his well-known sword-swallowing son, Chayne, aka the Space Cowboy.

Meanwhile, another iconic Byron Bay business, Abraxas Books, has closed after almost 17 years.

Owners of the alternative book store in Lawson St say the growth of the internet as a source of information and the rise of e-books had led to the closure.

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