Retailers cool on Womad

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 12:17 19/03/2012

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WOMAD 2012

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New Plymouth's streets were jam packed on Friday as Womaders geared up for the big weekend.

But while some retailers made the most of the heavy foot traffic, others did little to get extra people through their doors.

Womad specials and window displays were few and far between in the CBD.

Taranaki Arts Festival Trust communications manager Lisa McMullan said an annual campaign to get retailers into the Womad spirit had fallen short this year.

In February, a group of TAFT volunteers dropped flyers to retailers encouraging them to dress up their shop windows.

Each participant received a Friday night pass to Womad and the winning shop, Trade Aid, won two three-day passes.

Only 26 shops took up the challenge. Decorated window displays were at a number of Centre City retailers, she said.

That figure was well down on previous years.

Next year TAFT would try to communicate better with retailers, she said.

"I would be very interested to know how to make it easier for them to get involved in the project."

The low participation could have been partly because of Americarna coming to town a few weeks before Womad.

Retailers would probably be more willing to get involved if Womad signage was supplied but that was beyond TAFT's budget, she said.

The initiative had been in place for at least five years.

"Some retailers jumped on board and are delighted to join the party and welcome people to town."

One retailer to get into the spirit was Kiwi Outdoors Centre with a dressed up window display, extra stock on hand and Womad specials.

Owner Rob Needs was extending his hours today and tomorrow to cater for Womad crowds looking for seating, warm clothing and camping needs.

"Event tourism is fantastic if you can ride the coat tails of it," Mr Needs said. "Being a local business, we know what works."

He had bought stock specifically for Womad.

They had a special on Icebreaker gear at the moment to cater for the chilly nights he was anticipating.

"We predict it will be cold nights and the people who come down from up north will be freezing."

His advice for retailers unsure of how to capture the Womad market was to experience it first- hand.

Record store Vinyl Countdown also drew Womad patrons through its doors.

Owner Mark Thomas said he tried to stock as many Womad artist's albums as possible.

And Womad music had been playing non-stop over the store's stereo for the past week or so.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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