Business on the move
Wimpy off to R72, mall set for a multi-million revamp
EVEN amid an economic downturn, things are looking positive on the business front in Port Alfred, with a multi-million rand revamp happening at Heritage Mall and several businesses on the move – and new ones opening around town.
Guests at the Sunshine Coast Tourism (SCT) networking evening held at MyPond Hotel on Tuesday evening heard all about the latest developments.
At the event, SCT vice-chairman Wouter Hensens also revealed that the SCT management committee had been working on a tourism marketing strategy and invited input from stakeholders after the presentation.
The overarching strengths of the area were identified as the beautiful natural resources, the wide range of tourism activities, excellent value for money and the large number of accommodation venues – 85, with a total of 900 rooms and 2 400 beds.
Port Alfred Wimpy owner Dennis White was asked to speak about Wimpy’s impending move to the old Beavers building.
“There’s no more doubt – Wimpy is moving,” White said with a smile.
He said Famous Brands, the Wimpy brand owner, had compelled him to move the restaurant.
“The brand wants the transient trade,” White said, which is a sure thing at their new location on the R72.
As for how the business had been doing, he said: “It’s been a case of survival as it’s been for a lot of businesses.
“But I was happy at Heritage Mall. It’s been like a home to me for 15 years”.
White thanked their previous landlord at Heritage Mall for allowing Wimpy to stay on, on a month-to-month basis after their lease ended. He also confirmed that “Mugg & Bean is not coming to where I am now. They are part of Famous Brands and we’d know it by now”.
He expressed confidence in their new landlord at the Beavers building. “They will add value to town”.
Taking a question from the floor about the availability of parking at their new location, he
assured all there would be sufficient parking, as some old sheds had been removed at the back of the complex.
Port Alfred Pick n Pay manager Russell Shelton spoke about the revamp happening at Heritage Mall and to Pick n Pay itself.
“First off, we’ll be sore to lose Dennis at Heritage – I don’t know where my office will be,” he said with a chuckle.
He said two support columns were being erected in Pick n Pay’s former storage space at the back of the store, to allow for another floor which will become their new storage space.
In the meantime, the store has had to use storage in the industrial area and more merchandisers were on the floor during the revamp process.
The cigarette kiosk and customer care will be located in an addition to the front of the store and about 330m2 is being added to the shop’s floor space, with wider aisles and more tills. “Hopefully this will happen without too much disruption to our customers,” Shelton said.
As for the mall itself, he said the owners, Western Group Properties, were undertaking an upgrade worth millions of rands, with the end result that Heritage Mall “will look more like the malls you see in Port Elizabeth, with sunken lights and lot of steel”.
Customers will already have noticed alterations and additions to the former consulting rooms of Dr Alf Grimbeek. “I’m not privy to say who is moving in there but there will be a coffee shop and possibly a doctor moving in,” Shelton said.
He said the mall revamp should be complete by the beginning of November, after which Pick n Pay would work on its own revamp.
About five parking bays will be lost, but the mall already had additional parking in the car park across Biscay Road, he said.
Owner of the old Spur building in the Port Alfred small boat harbour, Stuart Boucher, spoke briefly about the new tenant moving in there after it had been standing vacant for more than a year.
“Some will say I don’t own the building in question,” he laughed.
The new tenant has moved in and could open some time this month.
Boucher said the idea was that it be like the legendary Barnacles, which used to occupy the space many years ago. “Let’s make Barnacles great again!” he said.
THINGS ARE LOOKING UP: Chairman of Sunshine Coast Tourism Rick Pryce, left, and Port Alfred Wimpy owner Dennis White talked about developments on the business front at a tourism networking meeting on Tuesday night