As part of a series on regional retail, we examined seven towns to learn what makes some thrive and some dive. This article focuses on Kaikoura.
Colette Cargill bought her Kiwiana gift shop, Little Rock, five weeks before Kaikōura’s November 2016 earthquake. The 7.8 magnitude quake was “pretty confronting, psychologically and emotionally”. As someone who had just made her first foray into retail, it also meant she faced big changes if her business was to survive.
Luckily, there was little damage to the shop building. She lost $10,000 worth of stock, however the Government’s earthquake support subsidy helped keep her afloat.
For the first few months Kaikōura’s customer base comprised locals and those working on the recovery, including medics and road workers. They offered shops like Little Rock a lifeline by making “a really lovely effort” to do their Christmas shopping in the town.
Help also came in the form of Dunedin IT expert Ina Kinski, who set up online shopping service Shop Kaikōura. Consumers around the country could support retailers by doing their Christmas shopping via personal shoppers and a video connection.
The quake directly led Little Rock into selling online. It’s a small part of business – “pretty low, around 10 percent” – but Cargill can see a direct correlation between how much time she invests in it and sales, and hopes to develop ecommerce in 2019.
Two years on, there’s still plenty of building work going on in Kaikōura’s main street where shops once stood. Several retailers are in the pop-up container mall on the site of the old Adelphi Hotel.
But there is cautious optimism. New commercial developments and hotels are in the pipeline, including a $20 million apartment and retail complex.
Destination Kaikōura general manager Glenn Ormsby says future booking are strong, for the 2018/19 summer and beyond. “By March or April 2019 we hope to be back to pre-quake figures.”
Check out other stories in this series:
Selling to the Kardashians from Matiere
This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 760 February/March 2019