Thousands check out St Martins supermarket

FRANCESCA LEE
Last updated 05:00 19/09/2012

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A new New World in St Martins attracted 5000 people on its first day.

The previous supermarket was demolished after the February 2011 earthquake. The new one was opened at 9.30am yesterday by Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority head Roger Sutton and owner Russell McKenzie.

About 300 people gathered at the opening to see the new layout and to take advantage of the specials.

McKenzie said there was "a once-in-a-lifetime-type atmosphere" in the supermarket.

"It just hasn't stopped all day. It was way beyond what we thought."

He said it had been so busy that people had had a "little bit of trouble" getting car parks.

He said trade was comparable to pre-Christmas, with the bakery, delicatessen and cafe the busiest departments.

Gowan Banbury, 88, who was injured in the supermarket during the quake, said it was lovely to be back in the supermarket.

"It's a big store now," she said. "You can't take it all in quickly."

Trudie Best, 33, of Opawa, arrived with 19-month-old son Leo to enjoy a cup of coffee and cake at the supermarket's new cafe area.

"I can't wait to see what else opens as well," she said. "Around Christchurch, it's really hard to see things coming back. All the buildings are being demolished but not a lot of buildings are being rebuilt yet. It's really nice to see this as a sign of things to come."

Store manager Garry Chubb said he had been looking forward to the reopening for a long time.

"It's fantastic. It's sunny and there's a good turnout," he said.

"It's a sign of rejuvenation."

"We're really excited," said St Martins resident Leonie Wethey, 24.

She and her friends and brother were dressed in vests and turbans made of supermarket plastic bags to celebrate.

"I was trying to think of a way to dress up for this, and the bags were the easiest," said Matthew Franklin, 22.

Frances Pullman, 60, who has lived in St Martins for 15 years, said: "It's lovely. I have seen a few old faces already."

The supermarket is open daily from 7.30am to 10pm.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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