Tale of two stores: a success, the other closing

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 10:33 15/07/2014
Kat Kemp
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/Fairfax NZ
CUSTOMERS GONE: Axis Boutique owner Kat Kemp will close the second-hand clothing store in coming weeks.
Bernette Hogan
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/Fairfax NZ
WINNER: Bower Bird owner-operator Bernette Hogan says her designer second-hand clothing store has gone well in the year it has been open.

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While one second-hand clothing store is running strong, another closes its doors.

Designer second-hand clothing store Bower Bird owner operator Bernette Hogan said her little shop in Windsor, Invercargill had gone from "strength to strength" in the year it has been open.

"It was the right idea at the right time," she said.

Hogan described herself as a devotee of New Zealand-made and designed clothing, and opened Bower Bird intending to sell only New Zealand-designed clothing.

"I've had to spread my wings a bit," she said. Her store offers second-hand designer clothing, footwear, and accessories from all over the world.

She sells on behalf of her clients, with the sale price split 50:50 between her and the owner of the garment.

"It's grown to such an extent I have clients from Gore, Balclutha, and Queenstown who sell here," she said.

One woman sends garments from Wellington for Hogan to sell on her behalf.

Customers had become loyal as well, with some coming in every day to check if there was anything new on the shelves, Hogan said.

Bower Bird is immediately next door to a second-hand Salvation Army clothing store, but Hogan said they didn't compete at all.

"It's a totally different market."

The location of Bower Bird was key, Hogan said. "There's a vital need for foot traffic, as well as car traffic."

She had no plans to move on any time soon.

"People have said they'd like to buy the shop, but it's my retirement plan," she said.

Meanwhile, Axis Boutique owner Kat Kemp said she was forced to compete with charity shops, one of the reasons she had decided to close her doors in coming weeks.

"It's tough going when my competitors are charity shops who have everything donated . . . I can't compete," she said.

The rise of free Facebook pages where people traded or sold items had not helped either, Kemp said.

"People don't need to leave home to shop," she said.

Axis Boutique had been open for 3 1/2 years, but customers had declined each year.

"Every winter it's got worse, other businesses up this end of town have noticed the same as me," Kemp said.

"I'd love to stay but I don't want it to end up costing me money."

The decline in foot traffic had a big impact on her business, she said.

Kemp partially blamed the Invercargill City Council for failing to do more to encourage customers and businesses into the city.

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"They should make landlords [of empty buildings] keep their windows clean, and paint the exteriors," she said.

She acknowledged that Esk St and Wachner Place needed a face lift, but she wanted the council to do more.

"It's time the city council took a hard look at the city and support the small fish - it's a small pond."

- The Southland Times

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