Souvenir shops 'cheapen' CBD
16 stores in Q'town CBDGRANT BRYANT
A proliferation of souvenir shops in Queenstown appears to be upsetting residents.
The latest souvenir store to open is Naturally New Zealand in Queenstown's busy pedestrian mall, giving an 80 metre stretch of The Mall five gift shops.
On neighbouring Beach St there are 11, making a total of 16 souvenir stores in the main shopping district.
Doug Jacques, a former high-profile Queenstown real estate agent and cafe owner who has just moved to Christchurch, said the high number of souvenir shops concentrated within such a small space painted a picture of downtown Queenstown as tacky and cheap, when the resort should be aiming for the exact opposite.
''There's nothing wrong with a small souvenir component, but if Queenstown wants to remain a world class resort destination we really have to think about what our CBD says to visitors expecting world class shopping,'' he said.
Mr Jacques represented Lululemon, the international yoga and sports clothing retailer, in negotiations for the space now occupied by Naturally New Zealand, and formerly by Paper Plus.
Lululemon has a store in Shotover St, but wanted a larger, higher visibility site.Naturally New Zealand is run by the Hansen family, who also own the Koha and Aotea gift stores in Beach St, and souvenir shops in Tekapo, Rotorua and Auckland.
Mr Jacques believed Lululemon's lease bid was only slightly less than that offered by NZ Natural.
He did not want to come across as suffering from a case of sour grapes, but believed it was time CBD landlords took some responsibility for ensuring Queenstown's retail landscape was high quality.
''Landlords need to look at the broader makeup of the CBD as part of their leasing process - they have the most to lose or gain, but Queenstown as a whole also rides on the decisions that they make,'' Mr Jacques said.
Naturally New Zealand's Richard Hansen said it was too much of a broad generalisation to classify all gift and souvenir stores as the same.
Prices within such stores varied from $3000 New Zealand-made leather jackets to 50 cent Chinese made trinkets, and the Hansen family stores concentrated on the mid to higher end market.
''I'd think a group of landlords would be unlikely to act together to dictate the types of retailers that lease their space,'' he said.
''Landlords compete amongst themselves to get tenants, just like in any other market dynamic.''
Market forces and the changing dynamic of retail would be the final decider on whether Queenstown had too many souvenir shops, Mr Hansen said.
''We moved into a bookstore that was probably affected by people buying books online, and the reason we're there is because there are hotels full of tourists spending time and money in Queenstown,'' he said.
- The Mirror