Three Invercargill stores planning to close doors

Wood Shed owner Heather Thomson is closing down the giftstore after 40 years in business on Dee St.
NICOLE JOHNSTONE

Wood Shed owner Heather Thomson is closing down the giftstore after 40 years in business on Dee St.

Three small Invercargill businesses planning to close inner city stores in the lead-up to or after Christmas say it is a "sign of the times".

Cradle Maternity, The Wood Shed gift store, and Hishon Lighting on Dee St have closing down sales up in the lead-up to Christmas and say online shopping and large retail franchises could be to blame. 

Heather Thomson opened the Wood Shed on Dee St 40 years ago and said the past year in Invercargill was particularly hard for small retail businesses.

"It's much more lucrative over Christmas but things have got harder definitely throughout the year. There's retail stores and there's also competition and certainly the Warehouse." 

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There had been several recent closures, but there were still many small retailers doing well in Invercargill, Thomson said.

"We do have quite a lot of good little shops and it's lovely to have them. But it's just the sign of the times."

Wood Shed had many loyal customers during the years, Thomson said.

"I thought it would be nice for those customers who've been lovely customers for all the years to get a bargain for Christmas [before we close]." 

No one franchise or change to Invercargill was to blame, Thomson said.

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"Everybody blames this and blames that but it's a combination of a lot of things. I've had many amazing and fantastic years and it's never been boring. One day is never the same as the next. We have lots of lovely people coming in. But it's hard, it's harder now than it was."

Maternity store Cradle is closing after eight years in business, including three years on Dee St.

Cradle owner Holly McDougall said Invercargill needed cheaper commercial rent, more parking, and more family friendly and covered shopping spaces. 

The Esk St upgrade did not help small businesses, McDougall said. 

"I don't think it's going to benefit small business. We don't have the weather for an outdoor area. If they enclosed it, it will be a lot better." 

The city centre needed more parking, McDougall said. 

"[Shoppers] can go to the Warehouse and Farmers and park for free and get everything they need."

Hishon Electrical Ltd owner John Hishon said while the retail showroom on Dee St would close, electrical services would continue from a Myross Bush workshop.

Hishon did not sense a shortage of shoppers on Dee St, but said online purchasing had changed how people shop.

"Buying online will have an impact and business is changing. But in my case I've been here since 1972, and that's 43 years. So it's just time for me to do something a bit different." 

Retail New Zealand general manager of public affairs Greg Harford said retail was a highly competitive environment. 

"They're facing competition from big and small companies and also stores offshore. [Online consumers] are shopping from the global shopping place 24/7.

The world is changing, which means some retailers are finding it hard to compete because of the small scale of New Zealand."

Small retailers had a tough time in recent years, Harford said. 

"It's increasingly hard for small retailers and that's one reason we're encouraging consumers to go out and buy from local shops, and Kiwi shops because when people shop locally they're supporting local jobs and local business." 

 - Stuff

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