Tannery tills ring in a jolly season

Christmas rush at new Woolston mall

TESS MCCLURE
Last updated 07:58 23/12/2013

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Business is booming at the Woolston Tannery as the last shops open and some experience queues that stretch out the door during the Christmas rush.

For many of the emporium's new residents, it was a relief to settle in, some having spent over a year searching for premises.

Recycle Boutique owner Hayley Budd's store has been open for two weeks, after nearly a year looking for space.

Since opening, she said, "the place has been humming," with turnover already "way ahead of projections".

Budd expected custom to increase steadily over the next few months, and had taken on an extra fulltime equivalent staff to keep up with demand.

She said the Christchurch store had been a "long time coming".

"It's been about finding the right site - and obviously that's tough after the earthquakes, with things either fully tenanted or fallen down."

"As soon as we saw the Tannery we were like, this is it it. We want to be here."

Smith's Bookshop has been open in the refurbished building since June.

Owner Barry Hancox said the business "had a couple of years in the wilderness, trying to find somewhere suitable," after its premises was destroyed in the February 2011 earthquake.

Smiths was founded in 1894, making it one of the oldest retail businesses in the city.

"It look a while to understand and accept that the city where we were was finished. I thought initially it would be possible to return in some way to where we were, or nearby.

"After a while I realised there was no point being loyal to the old CBD, because it wasn't coming back."

After that, Hancox said the Tannery's emporium had become an obvious choice.

He said sales had been good over the pre-Christmas period

Ally Rees, co-owner of clothing boutique Raw Nova, said business was strong, and the store's turnover was ahead of what she had expected.

Rees had taken on three part- time staff to keep up.

Toi Toi design store manager Sharne Wilkie-Grut also said business had recently taken off, with weekends particularly busy.

"On a Saturday and Sunday you can barely move in the store, it's so packed."

She had doubled staff on the floor.

Wilkie-Grut said it was "so nice to be somewhere different" at the Tannery.

"You almost feel like you're escaping Christchurch."

Co-owner of the site Alistair Cassels said the group prided itself on "not being a mall," and hoped the atrium provided shoppers with a more relaxing alternative to the Christmas shopping rush.

Cassels said the complex was busy, and revenue at Cassels & Sons Brewery, next to the atrium, had risen by 20 per cent due to extra custom from shoppers.

With the complex's 230 parking spots usually packed, he had plans to increase parking space.

"I'm very optimistic about the site, I really think we're going into a golden era. We're trying to do something pretty wonderful in Woolston. Not there yet, but we're very excited about the future."

All but three of the atrium's residents are now in place and open, with Mitchelli's Cafe, a beauty spa and an Alice in Videoland cinema due to open in the coming months.

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- The Press

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