Retail scene 'ebb and flow' continues

July 01, 2019 - 263 views

The "ebb and flow" of Oamaru's main street retail scene is continuing as new businesses open and others relocate, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

In recent weeks along lower Thames St, The Vape Shop has opened in the space formerly occupied by Health 2000; gift shop Tangibles has moved south from its former north Oamaru site to a space that used to house Mainstreet Music; and children's clothing store Rebellious Rose is now in the former Neat Feat space, after a brief stint in the old Tutu Hill Cakes and Gifts shop.

A new business to Oamaru, Carpet Court, opened this week where fashion store Mrs Hyde was previously.

Last week, the Otago Daily Times counted 14 empty street-level retail and office spaces in Thames St, between Itchen and Usk Sts, left vacant because of closures or relocations, the same number counted in February.

However, there was building activity in three of those spaces - including one in lower Thames St, where Acupuncture Oamaru will open soon.

Otago Chamber of Commerce North Otago advisory board chairman Stephen Halliwell said the opening of Carpet Court showed Oamaru was a viable option when it came to establishing a new business.

"Locals will invest locally - that's a natural thing.

"For someone from outside to come into Oamaru and invest ... they have done their homework and that's a positive sign."

As far as the relocations were concerned, businesses had "a whole lot of different reasons" why they might move, whether it be location, size or proximity to other services.

Mr Kircher said recent activity in lower Thames St was an example of the nature of the sector.

"It's all part of the ebb and flow of retail ... There's no doubt over the years the number of empty shops has ebbed and flowed and we're seeing a bit of that."

He said as businesses had moved south, ways to revitalise the northern end of the central business district needed to be considered, including "more activities outside of retail", which was part of the Waitaki District Council's Waitaki 2030 district plan review.

"For example, upstairs in many of the two-storey buildings there's offices and some empty spaces.

"We need to look at if we are doing enough or making it easy enough for people to convert those to the likes of apartments ... which help bring more vibrancy."

It was an issue that could be included in future annual plans, but would need to be supported by the council, businesses and landlords, he said.


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