'No price tampering' as quake limits supplies

Last updated 13:21 27/02/2011

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Christchurch earthquake

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Some people in quake-ravaged Christchurch are having to gather water in unusual ways, using solar showers and watering cans as shops sell out of containers.

Hardware suppliers and outdoor equipment stores in the city say they are doing a brisk trade in survival gear like water purifiers, portable toilets, generators and gas canisters.

Steve Heap, operations manager at Bunnings Warehouse in Riccarton, said the store had turned over "a lot of dollars" on much-needed supplies, with items like generators "flying out the door, mate".

"The obvious are the water containers, the gas cookers, gas bottles, gas refills out the front, wheel barrow, shovels," he said.

"Solar showers we're selling as water containers now, because we're out of containers. We've sold watering cans as water storage containers _ it's just trying to think outside the square for the punters.

"It's all really survival mode stuff ... we've pulled things to the front like water purifiers, packaging, batteries, buckets.

"It's all those sort of things you can think of that people need is what we've been selling."

But five days after the quake, some items were running low.

"We're at the stage now where we're running out. We don't have a whole let left to sell them," Mr Heap said.

The store opened at 9.30am the day after the quake, with staff selling essentials at the front door while others cleaned up the badly-damaged aisles. About $30,000 to $40,000 worth of stock had been destroyed.

"This shop was trashed. Every aisle just had s*** and paint everywhere - an unbelievable effort by these guys," Mr Heap said.

"A lot of these people have been working since the day of the quake and are getting a little bit ready to drop to the floor, so they've done a tremendous job."

Staff had been brought in from Dunedin and Nelson to help out.

Mr Heap said the shop had not tried to take advantage of the demand for essential goods.

"There's certainly been no tampering of prices in terms of putting it up knowing that people are going to buy it anyway.

"None of that will happen at Bunnings, they just wouldn't allow it and I wouldn't work for them if they did to be honest," he said.

The store had been discounting large orders and selling at cost to emergency services and groups of volunteers.

"We're helping where we can," Mr Heap said.

Scott Stephen, who manages the Bivouac Outdoor store in Riccarton, said they were contacting suppliers to get more goods like portable toilets, sleeping bags and gas canisters.

"Business here is going to pick up as an unfortunate result of what's happened," he said.

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"We've actually taken 30 percent off all of this stuff that wasn't already on sale to try and help people out a little bit more.''

Mr Stephen said sales of gas had been "going through the roof", and the store had also sold a small number of tents.

"Whether that's as an emergency backup in case of another aftershock and they have to move out of their house or what, I'm not sure 100 percent. But there definitely has been some."

Angela Tully, assistant manager at Kathmandu in Riccarton, said they had not received a lot of foot traffic.

"People are staying at home, where they need to be, or they're organising themselves. If anything people are just ringing to see if we've got some items or if we're open, and then they'll make the trip if they need to."

Ms Tully said people had been buying goods like toilet tents, cookers, gas canisters, and dehydrated food.

- NZPA

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