Gore: The little town that could

  • News
  • June 3, 2016
  • Elly Strang
Gore: The little town that could
Image: GoRetail

Around 13,000 people live in the town of Gore, nestled right at the at the bottom of the South Island. Famous for its trout fish monument, the town has long serviced the needs of the surrounding rural district and has traditionally had a strong CBD.

However, around two years ago, some troubling signs started appearing. For one, courier vans were doubling in size to accommodate all of the online shopping parcels.

Another warning sign was when Postie+ decided to shut up shop, as did a few other retailers.

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks says the state of the town centre wasn’t dire by any stretch of the imagination, but it was enough to be a catalyst for change.

“I didn’t want to take the risk of waiting and seeing what would happen. I thought, ‘we need to be doing something here.’”

Hicks’ family has a background in retail, while Hicks himself used to be a manager at The Warehouse.

He says the knowledge he’d gleaned in retail probably made him more aware of the risk of inaction than others.

“Particularly in rural communities, councils have been focused on the traditional basics of operation – very infrastructure focused. Now with trends going the way they’re going, we’ve got to shift and become much more connected to how the community is shaping and we’ve got a role as council in that place-shaping arena.”

Hicks approached retail consultancy First Retail Group and the company put together a proposal to the council.

The council went for it, so First Retail put together an action plan to re-engage the community.

Managing director Chris Wilkinson says they realised for many consumers, the town’s retail centre had lost its relevance. They were instead choosing to shop outside of Gore, either online or out of town.

First Retail developed the GoRetail initiative, which included solutions retailers could quickly run with, as well as some medium and longer-term objectives.

One of the quick strategies was helping retailers realign their shop hours with consumer expectations, as Wilkinson says people’s lifestyles had changed and the hours weren’t mirroring it.

The next step was to spread the word and get the community back on board with shopping locally.

Wilkinson says they went back to consumers through the media and were very humble about it.

“We took on the message of, ‘We’ve been listening to what you said, we’ve made the changes you’ve asked for and we respectfully want your business back again. We want you to make Gore your first choice when it comes to shopping and we’re going to prove that we can deliver’.”

Retailers and the council decided shops were best left closed on Sundays to make the day about sports, families and friends, except in the lead up to Christmas.

Meanwhile, ecommerce company Storbie built an online marketplace, so local retailers could list their products and consumers were able shop locally 24/7, preventing further drift.

Both Hicks and Wilkinson say the community response to GoRetail has been great, with a big uplift in foot traffic and the spirits of business owners.

By most reports, Gore also had a good Christmas in terms of sales.

“We all had a great Christmas compared to what it could’ve been,” Carvin Streetwear owner Chanelle Purser says.

“If we hadn’t been proactive and had GoRetail, I think our Christmas would’ve been really sad.”

Not only have shoppers’ attitudes changed, but so have retailers.

Hicks says the cooperation and team-like mentality between them is unlike anything he’s seen before.

“Traditionally retailers are individual in the way they approach advertising and marketing. Now, there seems to be a major shift to let’s do this as a community of retailers rather than individuals, and that the opposition is not the person next door, but the person on the other side of the world.”

Purser agrees and says there’s more a sense of retailers looking out for one another.

The retail community has meetings about once a month where they share ideas and support one another, and Purser helps to mentor any business owners that need a hand up.

She says she can’t rave about the GoRetail initiative enough.

“It’s created a really cool buzz about town, even right down to people standing chatting on the street catching up with someone they hadn’t seen in ages. They’d stand chatting on the street for half an hour because usually they would’ve gone to the city and wouldn’t have seen each other.”

 “At the end of our day our mayor was the instigator of this and I don’t know if many other rural towns would have a mayor that’s so forward thinking.”

Hicks says there’s a fantastic groups of retailers in Gore who are really keen to develop and grow.

“Retail has changed forever, and we just need to get our heads around what the new dynamic is.”

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Pams Pantry: The groundbreaking convenience store shaking up rural Canterbury

Dairies have a special place in the hearts of heartland New Zealanders, but now there’s a new format in town.


Diamonds in a rhinestone world: How jewellers are holding fast

Pricier products from retail’s apparel segment are often described as an ‘investment purchase’, but finance professionals would disagree on most counts – except when it ...


Come and celebrate our industry with the who’s who of retail

  • News
  • September 19, 2019
  • The Register team
Come and celebrate our industry with the who’s who of retail

Our Gem Retail Hotlist is about celebrating the vitality and innovation of New Zealand’s retail sector. Get your free ticket and join our industry’s top retailers for the networking event of the year.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

The simple excitement of inflatable advertising

  • News
  • September 17, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
The simple excitement of inflatable advertising

Our advertising landscape continues to rotate around the growth of digital and how digital can be used to further capture the attention of viewers.Yet there is one type of adverting so simple, so primal, so no-nonsense that even in this computer run society it has survived. We’re talking here, about inflatable, or balloon, advertising.

Read more

Tourism’s changing landscape

When we last looked at tourism back in 2016, the general vibe was positive. Smaller town retailers were starting to again hear the hum of ...


Selling memories in the tourist market

  • Opinion
  • September 17, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Selling memories in the tourist market

NZ Retail editor and associate publisher Sarah Dunn invites retailers to consider the real significance of souvenirs: Tourists aren't just buying products, but keepsakes that carry their memories of a great holiday.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit