Businesses poised for student influx

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 15/02/2013

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The flood of students migrating to Palmerston North has business owners ready and waiting, with the hospitality industry especially keen for the extra trade.

Massey University and UCOL students are moving into their flats for the year, and Central Rentals owner Hamish McIntosh said he had noticed.

He said the business rented whiteware and appliances to a large range of people, but students made up a significant market.

"We love having them back in town because they are a great bunch to deal with."

Trade had dropped off a bit in the past 10 years, mainly because more hostels had been built, he said.

There was a difference between what international and New Zealand students rented, he said.

"Kiwi students get your whites - washing machines and fridges - while the international students will need beds, televisions, the whole lot."

Mr McIntosh said the Palmerston North rental market also helped his business.

"Apparently in Dunedin lots of flats are furnished already, but Palmerston North just hasn't gone that way."

Beer Barrel and Empty Vessel owner Nathan Hiscox said he could not wait for the students to get back.

"Everything dies down a bit [over summer], but when the students are back there's more vibrancy and energy in town.

"Everyone from taxi drivers to dairy owners say it's better with them here."

The holiday season had seen students both take and leave jobs at the two bars, he said.

"A lot of students leave town for the holidays, but we get a lot of people coming back who go to universities elsewhere.

"We've already had quite a few turning up asking for work this year. Mainly part-time stuff."

Mr Hiscox said he was already planning events to try to snare the student market this year, including a paint party during Orientation week.

"I'm just excited to get back into it."

Tracy Harland from Scholars cafe said hospitality businesses in the area were "aching" for the students to get back to UCOL.

"There's a huge drop off [over summer], especially since we lost things like Farmers, so we don't really get many shoppers."

The bump in business also enabled the cafe to hire more staff, she said.

"We get really busy over lunch, so a student with a break during lunch is ideal to have as a cover person."

However, when to hire the students was a juggling act, she said.

"Until they all come back and it really picks up, we can't commit to hiring anyone part-time."

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- Manawatu Standard

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