Store with a conscience forced to close

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:00 05/05/2014

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A Palmerston North sweet shop praised by the Ministry of Social Development for offering work opportunities to its intellectually disabled staff has shut its Broadway Ave doors.

Humbug Director Mary Prichard said the retail side of the business had been unable to support itself in Palmerston North and it was now offering its concept to other families around New Zealand.

"We got eaten up by The Plaza. They have two sweet stores which were selling a lot of the same products as us, and they have the majority of the foot traffic," Pritchard says.

Humbug began in December 2012 as a lolly trolley parked in Cuba St and quickly became popular when Prichard and co-founder Georgina Goulden picked up a bricks-and-mortar premises in George St.

The Eketahuna earthquake in January threw lolly jars and plaster onto the floors of the business and prompted Prichard to hurriedly move out despite no obvious structural damage to the store.

The business was offered temporary premises in the old Munchkins store on Broadway, but could not generate enough income there, Prichard said.

People in Auckland, Wellington, Whangamata, Matamata, Whangarei, Dunedin and Tauranga had desires to continue the concept Humbug had originally started and Prichard said she would be supporting them to do it.

"I think what they will be trying to do is get the sweets into local businesses like cinemas or use them as staff gifts.

"It's nice to know that what we did was worthwhile, that a lot of people have seen the merit in it," she said.

In Palmerston North the retail side of Humbug would be gone but its spirit would live on, she said.

"I'm a social worker by trade and I want to keep supporting the intellectually disabled in the community.

"I'll be working with the council to offer talk-time sessions where we can keep discussing the issues that matter for the young adults we employed.

"It would be nice to grow a bit more compassion in the community."

Prichard thanked the loyal customers of Humbug and paid tribute to the work done by community organisations such as Destination Manawatu to support them.

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- Manawatu Standard

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