Liquor merchant attracts public ire
Aranui residents oppose shop on Pages RdASHLEIGH STEWART
An under-fire east Christchurch liquor store owner who lost his previous business in the earthquakes says he would never have opened his new shop had he known the trouble it would cause.
Thirsty Liquor opened its doors in Aranui before Christmas, sparking outrage from many in the community that the store would prey on the vulnerable.
A petition has since been started to prompt public debate on the matter, before the business' temporary licence expires in March.
Store owner Sabu Joseph did not want people to think he was "taking advantage of the community" as he had opened the business to get back on his feet.
He purchased the Pages Rd space after being approached by the previous business owner in December, having lost "a few hundred thousand dollars" when his dairy was badly damaged in the February 2011 quake.
The liquor store was "smashed up" and required "a lot of money" to be spent on repairs and renovations.
Joseph had not been aware of the controversy until a couple days ago.
"I don't want to go against people in the community," he said.
"If I knew there were objections I would not have taken it."
Joseph said he ran a strict business and closely monitored his customers. The father-of-three said he knew it was not the "most positive business", but he needed to "get back up" after the quakes.
"I don't want to do nothing and get help from the Government. I want to do something in the community and give a good lesson to my kids."
Karen Carpenter, who is spearheading the campaign for the store's relocation, has gained more than 600 signatures for the petition, which she planned to take to the Burwood-Pegasus Community Board.
The area already had high rates of alcohol and drug dependency and family violence, she said.
"There's a pub not even 20 metres away, and there's a cashflow machine 10 metres away.
"We're a vulnerable area and we can't let people come in here and put more pressures on us."
There was likely to be a public meeting "to discuss the implications" of the store gaining a permanent licence, Carpenter said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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