Kitchen shop finds home with car dealer
The Cook Shop relocatesTAMLYN STEWART
It is no longer unusual to find a former inner-city retailer operating in a garage in Christchurch, but a car dealership is a bit of a leap.
Then again, for someone with as much drive as Elizabeth Fry, it almost seems appropriate.
The Cook Shop owner has had to relocate her business three times since September 2010, and will move again before the end of the year, hopefully for the last time.
The specialist kitchenware retailer is a Christchurch institution of 30-plus years and is now at Gary Cockram Hyundai motors on the corner of Durham and Tuam streets.
When Fry bought the business 16 years ago it was based in a "Dickens-looking" building on Colombo St, near the Convention Centre and the Town Hall.
It was well located, but after the September 4 earthquake the building "just didn't feel the same", prompting Fry to find an alternative site - the ground floor of the previous Strategy building on Montreal St.
The business moved in November 2010, and traded strongly through the Christmas period, picking up new customers.
But the February quake damaged the building, which has since been demolished, and the Cook Shop had to move again.
Fry and her husband were in the store during the quake, and that had been a very frightening experience. They also lost their Huntsbury home. When they returned home that day the damage was such they "couldn't find a toothbrush", she said.
They went to stay with friends in Springfield. Fry remembers arriving, and one of their friends pushed a glass of wine into her hand and said "There we are Lizzy, take two big slurps, quickly."
After a few months they were able to get most of their stock out of the Strategy building, with help from Smith Crane & Construction. They hired a container and were able to save a lot of stock as there were pockets of the shop unscathed.
From February till July last year Fry and her staff worked on retrieving stock, taking inventory and worked with their insurer, FMG, who had been good to deal with, she said. The Cook Shop had adequate business interruption insurance cover.
On July 4 last year they secured premises at 384 Montreal St, and that had been a great location for the business, Fry said, but in March the business was given 24 hours' notice by their landlord that the building was unsafe and they needed to move out. Fry says that was very sad but safety of staff and customers took priority.
Stock went into storage at a friend's place and Fry had just started wondering "Where to next?" when Angus Cockram rang and said "You've had such a terrible time, would you like to take the showroom?"
Fry said she and her three staff were grateful to Angus and Dougal Cockram. "Where would I have gone? There's nowhere."
It was important for the business to have a physical store because though they sold items online, most people still wanted to come in and browse and see and feel things in person.
The Cook Shop reopened at Gary Cockram Hyundai, on the corner of Tuam and Durham streets, on April 21.
It might seem an incongruous place for a homeware shop, but Fry says while men come to buy cars, women come and browse in the Cook Shop.
Business in the car show room had been "absolutely fine" and revenue was up, she said.
Fry plans one more move before the end of the year. The Cook Shop has been invited to be a tenant at a development on the corner of Holmwood Rd and Rossall St. Fry says she is excited about the move.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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