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Paul Keane on exposing niche retail to a wider audience

  • Opinion
  • March 6, 2018
  • Paul Keane
Paul Keane on exposing niche retail to a wider audience

As we walk through our respective commercial lives, we are often exposed to new or different environments that garner a high level of interest, or alternatively are at least personalised to make them different to other like environments. Retail is a typical profession that has the ability to throw up new participants and at times can equally see them disappear as quickly as they have risen. 

In the 1980s, I hosted in my then office in Wellington, 3 young men who wanted to open a new retail store in Wellington’s latest retail development the BNZ Centre on Wellingtons Willis Street.

Through a series of interviews, the three brothers gradually satisfied me that they had what was needed in terms of the retail offer and as a result, St Pierre's opened its first store as a fish delicatessen. The rest is history, the brothers have gone on to open in excess of 50 stores and they are now preparing to open a first off "drive through". The product line today is somewhat reduced and focuses on Sushi, which has turned out to be a winner.

The success of the Katsoulis boys (now men of course!) is something to be cherished in the annuls of retail in New Zealand. Sadly, the owners of the BNZ Centre today, for some unknown reason failed to renew their lease after they had spent 30 years as tenants! That really is odd and the subject of a story, in the future.

Over the past week however, I had occasion to visit Waiheke Island, and I unearthed a similar business which I am encouraged to discuss this week.

All of us savour the opportunity to indulge in some really good seafood.

Strangely, there are few really good such restaurants in New Zealand, in fact we tend to lock them away in remote locations and whilst popular in their own environments, are often unheard of by the wider community. The Restaurant to which I refer is "The Local" (sea.food.eat.it). Located in the heart of Waihekes Oneroa Village.

It’s not your traditional restaurant, they serve the delicious and fresh daily snapper in paper, but also offer a wide and excellent range of range of wines and you can buy a jug of Tiger Beer and receive free chips to supplement the real sea food on the menu. You don't need to dress up, but you will not be disappointed in the environment which balances its food with a jolly good view, and bookings are not required. It’s operated by a not so young Sara and Simon, and I get the feeling that they are contemplating expanding the brand into Auckland.

It’s not often that I promote new environments, but when something touches you which is traditional but exciting, why not exposé them to our wider community. 

Retailing is not just about selling goods, but ensuring what we sell is the best we can produce, and with a personality that generates enthusiasm. "The Local" has all of this and more. I wish them well in bringing the offer to Auckland if they decide to do so, and potentially giving a wider demographic the opportunity of participating. Meanwhile a trip to Waiheke and a visit is well worthy of the effort.

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