Market veteran says Re:Start took business

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 30/10/2012
Gloria Verweij
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

LEFT OUT: Former Cathedral Square Market manager Gloria Verweij and son Johan in their Oxford Tce stall.

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Christchurch's "mother of Cathedral Square" says she faces financial ruin after Re:Start mall management "hijacked" her market business of 22 years.

Re:Start has terminated Gloria Verweij and son Johan's licence to operate their market in Oxford Tce and signed up some of her stallholders for its market in the Re:Start mall.

The move has devastated the pair, who ran the Cathedral Square market from 1988.

They had hoped to operate their market in the Re:Start mall, which they trialled for two weeks before their contract was cancelled with a month's notice.

Re:Start has appointed Paul Wilkinson-Baker, who has worked for Colliers International, to manage the new Re:Start market - a decision it says was simply business.

After the February 2011 earthquake, Gloria and Johan Verweij moved their market to Addington Raceway, the YMCA and St Elmo Courts and in April this year signed up to Re:Start based in Oxford Tce.

There, Verweij charged her stallholders $45 a day - slightly more than she had charged in Cathedral Square - with a $10 fee per stall going to Re:Start.

They were offered a spot in the Re:Start mall, starting on October 5, but with a fee of $25 per stall and a target of about 12 stalls.

She faced charging stallholders $60 a day or wearing the extra cost herself. They opted to charge $60.

On October 12, Johan Verweij approached Re:Start manager Paul Lonsdale and said he could not deliver the number of stalls Re:Start wanted charging $60 a stall. The next day, he received an email, shown to The Press, from Lonsdale: "The Re:Start Trust has instructed me to advise you that the trial period is now over and they now wish to pursue running the Re:Start market in the new location under a different management regime.

''They will be appointing an independent market manager and that manager will be responsible for the day-to-day leasing and running of the Re:Start market."

Verweij said she was devastated.

"How can they set up a market in opposition, with my stallholders? After 22 years of having a market, it's been swiped from under our feet," she said.

Her son said: "They are there to help businesses restart, not to take the business away. They've done nothing to start a market themselves. They haven't managed the market through the winter like we have." 

Wilkinson-Baker offers stallholders individual rates of $45 a day, paying a $25 fee to Re:Start.

He said he never "shoulder-tapped" any of Gloria's stallholders. He made arrangements only with those he found milling about on his first day or contacted him for information.

Lonsdale said Gloria and Johan Verweij were given an opportunity but could not deliver what the trust needed to cover costs incurred on the mall site.

Stallholders spoken to at the Re:Start market yesterday said they had moved because it was "a no-brainer".

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- The Press

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