In the final installation of our series looking at retail in seven New Zealand regions, we’re examining Dargaville.
Dargaville sits on the junction of State Highways 12 and 14, the gateway to the Waipoua Forest, home of giant kauri trees.
Despite this, major tourism seems yet to descend on “the Kūmara Capital of the World”. Dargaville remains service-oriented, aimed at the surrounding rural community. The town of around 5,000 has six banks and there’s a noticeable proliferation of farming supply shops.
But the 2018 census shows Northland is the fastest-growing region in the country, with more than 27,000 people (18.1 per cent growth) living in the region than five years ago.
Population growth has increased consumer spending in the area, says Infometrics’ Olsen. Retailers in main centres like Dargaville are also set to benefit from a higher dairy pay-out for the 2019/20 season.
With its eye-catching, mustard-yellow exterior and a bike bursting out of the wall, Dargaville bike shop Time To made an impact on the local retail scene when it opened in February 2018.
Owner Sadie Cogan, a former Commonwealth Games mountain biker (then known as Sadie Parker-Wynyard), and her husband, fellow bike racer Des Cogan, originally ran their business from home in Mangawhai.
Dargaville offered the chance to open a large store on a main street, she says, and the couple saw a need in the town for a dedicated bike shop with knowledgeable staff and quality bikes, hiking and running gear.
The Cogans used local tradespeople to rebuild and renovate their 100-year-old building, and as consumers they try and purchase from local stores.
“There’s a culture of keeping business local and that way the local businesses stay open,” says Cogan. “This seems to generally be the way of Dargaville.”
Dargaville “relies heavily” on how the farmers and kūmara growers are doing.
“I’m sure many businesses have up and down times… The main street still has a few empty shops but the quality businesses that have been here for many decades are still here. We hope to be one of the quality businesses of the future and our growth over two years is looking promising.”
This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 765 December 2019 / January 2020