Ensuring your gear is in safe hands

JESSICA RAPANA
Last updated 05:00 11/08/2014
The Wardrobe
CAMERON BURNELL/ Fairfax NZ
COAT CHECK: Massey University students Nicole Macdonald, left, and Kirsty Bowden have developed The Wardrobe in Courtenay Place to provide a place for people to safely leave their coats and belongings without risking loss or theft.

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Partygoers braving the cold no longer need to worry about losing their coat in Courtenay Place.

New student venture The Wardrobe will launch on August 23, offering Wellingtonians a secure spot to leave their belongings while they dine or dance.

The service would operate on Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm to 4.30am, giving people an extra 30 minutes to collect their belongings after bars closed.

Founder Nicole Macdonald, 22, said she wanted The Wardrobe to be the first and last checkpoint when people went to town.

Wristbands would be given to people to avoid them losing tickets or picking up the wrong items, she said. In particular, the project would target students and young professionals who wanted to go straight from work to town, but not take their coats or laptops with them.

Research showed 86 per cent of students decided to leave warm clothing at home at the start of a night, Macdonald said. Another 65 per cent felt uncomfortable about leaving their possessions behind a bar or hiding them, to the extent that the enjoyment of their night was affected.

After speaking with bar managers in the area, they found most bars did not offer a coat check.

Wellington police were backing the project as a way of preventing theft in the CBD.

Sergeant Morgan Gray said they were aware of the problem.

"I think it's a mix of things, alcohol-related forgetfulness, some people out there looking to exploit people and take their property, and a lot of the bars not set up to handle people's bags and property," he said.

"We see some bars with jackets, handbags and purses piled up in corners with very little supervision."

The Wardrobe would change the environment and take away the ability for these thefts to occur, he said.

El Horno bar owner Mat Lear said an organised system was a fantastic idea. "Busy places, like us, would like to help everyone out, but we don't have the time or space."

The only problem would be when people wanted to wear their coats walking between bars, he said.

Three design students from Massey University developed the idea. Macdonald, Kirsty Bowden, 22, and Bryan Visala, 33, were told to think of a small problem or issue they could solve, for a course called Creative Futures.

Macdonald said she often had this problem herself. "I bet heaps of people deal with it every weekend."

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