Chain stores kill small business
Queenstown fashion institution Goddess is set to close, as commercial rents – up to $1700 a square metre annually – force smaller businesses to re-evaluate their position in the market.
The women’s boutique fashion store in the Queenstown Mall has built a reputation for supplying high-end clothing to locals and travellers alike in the resort since 1999.
Reasons for Goddess’ closure are unclear and owner Shirlie Pullar would not comment due to a confidentiality agreement, presumably with the new tenant.
Pullar purchased the business in 2013 from creator Penny Hamilton.
Downtown QT general manager Steve Wilde, who acts on behalf of over 200 Queenstown business members, said the latest rent increase for some businesses was up to 40 per cent.
A new building in Beach St – which housed Storm, T2 and 2degrees – leased for $1700 a sqm annually, Wilde said.
Members had indicated recent rent rises were ‘‘concerning’’ and although he did not know the reason for Goddess’ closure, it was a ‘‘real shame’’.
‘‘High rent does make it hard for boutiques like Goddess to sustain.’’
Where demand was so high due to the popularity of Queenstown, people with ‘‘deep pockets’’ could come and set up shop, many of them chain stores, Wilde said.
They now set the benchmark for rent in the CBD, he said.
‘‘If people are prepared to pay the rent, then that’s what rent will be.’’
Nine Body Coverage owner Julz Rogers-Brown, whose women’s fashion store sits in Cow Lane, said new chain stores were pushing out independently-owned businesses.
‘‘Another rent increase might put me out of business,’’ she said. ‘‘Smaller businesses don’t stand a chance here.’’
She had spent 17 years in business in Queenstown and feared for what the future held.
‘‘It’s hard because, at the end of the day, there’s more money going away and less coming in.’’
Kiwi Wool Shop’s Raewyn Livingstone said: ‘‘The town will wind up being all chain stores . . . because the little guy can’t afford it. How many little guys are left now? Not many.’’
Colliers International Queenstown valuation and consultancy spokesman John Scobie said new tenants coming into the market were determining rentals.