Owners Jeff and Jodie Saccullo told their team about the decision on Jan. 12 in a meeting that Jeff described as very emotional and difficult. A post announcing the closure and the liquidation was posted on their Facebook page sooner thereafter.
Their accountant had recommended in November that they close the business because the profitability just wasn’t there. Jeff and Jodie decided to stay open during the peak holiday shopping period. Jeff emphasized how grateful they are to their customers who continued to shop with them.
It was their suppliers, coupled with COVID-19 and the shifting retail environment, that eventually doomed the business. The store carries quality name brands. Jeff said that the shutdown accelerated a nasty trend of manufacturers using their own websites to go direct to consumers and bypass retailers. He cited many instances where customers wanted a specific product and had located it on a manufacturer’s site. But when he, as a retailer, tried to order it, he could not.
The trend hit small businesses such as Dom’s particularly hard because they have no leverage with the manufacturers. The big companies took care of their key customers—the big box chain stores—but squeezed small accounts such as Dom’s. He said during the December this was happening as often as twice in one day. In our conversation, he told me about a Central Valley storeowner who was doing $2 million a year from one manufacturer and then had her account closed.
Jeff’s dad, Dom, started the store in 1970 on North Livermore Avenue in the block just north of First Street as Dom’s Surplus. During my daily newspaper days, I recall writing more than one story or column about Dom and his fellow downtown business owners and their disagreements with city leaders. Dom purchased the current building at 1870 First Street from Safeway (it was the original Safeway in Livermore). It is one of the rare downtown Livermore businesses with its own parking lot.
Jeff hung around the store growing up and came to work officially in 1988. He and Jodie purchased the business in the late 1990s. The store was renamed Dom’s Outdoor Outfitters and launched the catalogue business in 1995. They’ve also been doing business online for many years. Ironically, they were in the process of migrating their e-commerce to a new platform late in 2019 that was much more robust. It got put on hold during the COVID shutdown because he simply didn’t have the staff to do it.
The store offers a mixture of outdoor clothing and equipment in addition to firearms. Jeff noted that because of state laws they literally have a storage shed full of boxes of gun paperwork that dates to the 1970s.
Several times during our conversation Jeff mentioned how thankful they are for their customers and how the employees got to know regular customers and would recommend items for them to check out. “It was kind of like their “Cheers” for many customers,” he said.
Jeff, 57, plans to oversee the merchandise liquidation until the April closure and then spend the rest of the year cleaning up the 12,000-square-foot building. Come 2022, he expects to be looking to get back into the workforce.