There's no place like home for Whare

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 05:00 09/05/2011
HOUSE PROUD: Adele Wheeley, the owner of Whare Homewares, has opened a shop in her garage after both her Beckenham and her Lichfield St shops were destroyed in the February earthquake.
CARYS MONTEATH
HOUSE PROUD: Adele Wheeley, the owner of Whare Homewares, has opened a shop in her garage after both her Beckenham and her Lichfield St shops were destroyed in the February earthquake.

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It's a garage sale of a different kind for Christchurch's Adele Wheeley.

The homewares store owner lost her Beckenham and Lichfield St stores to the earthquake but is determined to keep her business alive – so much so she got her husband, Andrew, to convert the garage of their Birdwood Ave home into a new, albeit much smaller, store.

Carpeting, lighting and a set of French doors were installed and the walls painted – and Wheeley was up and running. And while the garage may lack the grandeur of her previous stores, it had a certain charm, she said.

"People are really enjoying it," she said. "We've gone from 250square metres to 18 square metres."

The couple managed to retrieve all their stock from their Beckenham store – more than enough to fill the new space, with extra stock stored in the house.

The Beckenham store has been red-stickered and the Lichfield St store is within the no-go red zone.

Wheeley has tried to drive online sales but said that was proving difficult as there were already established online businesses.

"Clearly it's not going to be a magic bullet."

But she was working on developing her website further and had already had a bit of activity at her new garage store.

"We have had a constant trickle of familiar faces from our old stores," she said.

She needed to move her old stock so she could order new items to keep up with the latest trends, as customers were always looking for something new and things they had not seen before.

Whare used to employ four people, including her husband, but now Wheeley runs it singlehandedly.

And because she is now a sole trader, she no longer qualifies for the government wage subsidy, which excludes sole traders from the second round of the government support package for quake-affected Canterbury businesses.

The couple are relying on savings and income Andrew is earning from new part-time employment.

Wheeley said she was determined not to give up as she felt a strong obligation to her suppliers, who needed to be paid.

So far the store's creditors had been very understanding.

"My creditors from all over the country have been incredibly patient."

Wheeley said she was keen to clear the stock she had retrieved and was offering discounts to Christchurch residents who needed to replace items lost in the earthquake.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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