HomeNEWSJoy ride: Avantiplus takes out the overall Upper South Island Top Shop Award

Joy ride: Avantiplus takes out the overall Upper South Island Top Shop Award

Avantiplus Blenheim has been crowned the overall regional winner for the Upper South Island. Owner and operator Bill Mitchell has been in the retail business for 31 years, but it was only his second go at entering the awards. Upon accepting the accolades, he said it was never too late for older retailers to win out over the young ‘uns.

Avantiplus Blenheim also won the lifestyle and sports category at the Upper South Island Top Shop Awards held at the Air Force Museum in Christchurch last night.

Mitchell and his partner, Lynne Haines, accepted the two awards triumphantly while Queen’s song, Bicycle Race, played fittingly in the background.

The store has five permanent staff, including Mitchell and Haines, and two part-timers.

Mitchell is a retail legend in Blenheim, and has in business for 31 years.

He says the most enjoyable part about being in the business is the customers.

“I just love having fun with the customers and see them getting excited about bikes,” he says.

“Especially with third generation customers, when we sell to the whole family. It’s such a buzz when the adults bring their kids in to get their first bike.”

The origins of the shop can be traced back to 1984, when Mitchell purchased the Marlborough Sports store.

It underwent a rebrand to become a triathlon centre, but then BMX racing took off.

Avanti asked Mitchell if he wanted to join its model and he accepted.

The store has been operating under Avanti ever since.

Mitchell says there’s no complicated secret to success in retail.

“It’s just putting on a smile, chatting to people and asking the right questions. Its simple, basic stuff,” he says.

Haines echoed these sentiments when the pair accepted the awards.

“A smile costs you nothing and the reality is, it gets you everywhere,” she said.

Mitchell credited the shop’s win to lots of staff training.

“I spend a lot of money on sending my staff to retail training,” Mitchell says.

“It’s good to get a reminder of what you should be doing and they always come back from the courses buzzing with new ideas and wanting to change the shop around. They do all the hard work, the staff.”

The awards came at the perfect time to celebrate the end of an era, as Mitchell put the Avantiplus Blenheim store up for sale last year.

He says he wasn’t tempted to keep at it following the big win last night.

“It was pretty exciting and gave me a huge buzz, but I want to retire and ease back. I’ve worked seven days a week, from 7:30am until 6pm. I put a lot of time and effort into my shop,” he explains.

Mitchell will move to another role within the wider Avanti company once it’s sold.

He says he’ll be helping the new owners as much as he can.

As for the Top Shop Awards, Mitchell is keen for other retailers to get on board.

“I think it’s amazing that Retail NZ put on the event and put that challenge out there for retailers. I’d like to see a lot more enter,” he says.

“It’ll get more people buzzing to lift their service with our retail systems right through the country. Our tourists are on the increase and we should be grabbing every dollar off them we can.”

The big winners

The three big national awards were awarded following the Upper South Island regional awards: the National Pureplay E-tailer award, the National Retail Professional of the Year and the Overall National Supreme Winner.

The Overall Supreme Winner was Specsavers Gisborne. 

Wellington’s Beauty Bliss won the Pureplay E-tailer award, while there was a tie for National Retail Professional of the Year.

Rebekah Brown from Resene in Auckland and Jess Pulham from Carvin Streetwear in Gore jointly accepted the award.

Retail NZ chief executive Mark Johnston said all the finalists and winners should be proud of what they’ve achieved, but the biggest congratulations goes to Specsavers Gisborne.

“Winning the National Supreme Award is a tremendous achievement,” Johnston says.

“The judges that visited the store were impressed by the very professional layout and look. The staff were friendly and made customers feel welcome and at ease, while providing excellent advice.”

The full list of winners:

Fashion & Footwear sponsored by The Register

Winner – Specsavers Papanui

Runner up – KILT Nelson


Food & Beverage sponsored by Meridian

Winner – Traiteur European Butchery (Merivale)

Runner up – Countdown Ferrymead


Health & Beauty sponsored by Eftpos NZ

Winner – Renaissance, The Art of Beauty (Sumner)

Runner up – Renaissance Organic Hair (Nelson)


Home & Garden sponsored by Westpac

Winner – Global Living Homebase (Marshlands)

Runner up – Global Living (Addington)


Jewellery & Giftware sponsored by Union Pay

Winner – Silvermoon Nelson

Runner up – Pandora Riccarton


Lifestyle & Sports sponsored by Spark Business

Winner – AvantiPlus Blenheim

Runner up – Just Hockey/Cricket Express (Christchurch)


Technology & Electronics sponsored by Rightway

Winner – Spark Moorhouse Ave (Christchurch)

Runner up – Spark Richmond


Retail Professional sponsored by Service IQ

Winner – Rebekah Coulter – Spark Moorhouse Ave

Runner up – Mary Sangster – Children’s Book Store (Riccarton)


Small/Single-Store sponsored by Metropol

Winner – Living Light Candles Nelson

Runner up – Emma’s at Oxford


Single-Store OmniChannel sponsored by Mastercard

Winner – Living Light Candles Nelson

Runner up – JNBY (Merivale)


National/Multi-Store sponsored by Visa

Winner – Flight Centre Barrington

Runner up – Cruiseabout Nelson


Multi-Store OmniChannel sponsored by Z Energy

Winner – KILT Christchurch

Runner up – Bike Barn Hornby

People’s Choice sponsored by The Hits

Winner – Hair Products Online (Christchurch)

Runner up – Pumpkin Patch Riccarton

Regional Overall Winner sponsored by .99 & NZME

Winner – AvantiPlus Blenheim

Runner up – Living Light Candles Nelson

National Retail NZ Top Shop Award winners:

National Retail Professional sponsored by Service IQ

Winner – Jess Pulham, Carvin Streetwear (Gore) and Rebekah Brown, Resene, Auckland

Runner up – Ashley Brunel – Liquor King Horsham


National Pureplay E-tailer sponsored by Retail NZ

Winner – Beauty Bliss (Wellington)

Runner up – Pregoli (Cromwell)


Overall National Supreme Winner sponsored by .99

Winner – Specsavers Gisborne

Runners up – Carvin Streetwear (Gore) & Warehouse Stationery Royal Oak

Rate This Article: