Chain stores kill small busi­ness

Central Otago Mirror - - WHAT’S ON - RHYS CHAMBERLAIN

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.

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