Hallelujah for Ballantynes' retail therapy

20:12, Jun 30 2011
Ballantynes
GREAT ESCAPISM: Enjoying their day-trip to Ballantynes in Timaru are, from left, Angela Croft, Bernie Smith, Kay Cooke, Barbara Noster and Margaret McDermott.

Earthquake-hit Christchurch store Ballantynes has taken nearly 1400 customers on "escapism" shopping trips to Timaru.

The retailer started the twice-weekly bus service to its Timaru branch in April, offering shoppers an alternative way to get their Ballantynes fix after the Christchurch store was closed because of February's earthquake.

Hostess Denise Bird, who is also the company's shoe and luggage buyer, said the trip was "something special" for people who did not want to shop online or drive to Timaru themselves.

"It's a fun day to get away from Christchurch. It's a day of escapism," Bird said.

Most shoppers were women aged over 40, but some younger women and a few "brave" men had taken the trip. "They're pretty brave to come on board with all the ladies. They [the men] tend to slide down to make sure they're not spotted."

Many were regular Ballantynes shoppers, but some were visiting the store for the first time. A 17-year-old girl told staff she had a "fantastic" time buying her first cosmetics from the Timaru store with her mother and aunt, Bird said. Each guest received a complementary glass of juice or bubbles on arrival in Timaru as well as a high tea and a variety of exclusive promotions.

Customer feedback had been positive, and the company planned to continue the trips until the Christchurch store could reopen.

She said Ballantynes hoped to reopen on October 29, "although we don't know what's around the corner". The trips cost $20, and places can be booked by calling the Ballantynes customer service desk on 03 379 7400.

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