Retailers cool on street closure

ALEXIA JOHNSTON AND AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 24/11/2012

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Timaru retailers are opposed to a permanent closure of Stafford St, with parking the main issue.

The idea was put to Stafford St retailers yesterday, following last week's Timaru On Show event on Friday, in which the street was closed to traffic from 10am until 7pm.

The idea is not on the drawing board, but all retailers appear to have an opinion on it.

Many who spoke to the Timaru Herald said they did not believe the concept would work if enforced permanently.

Dorothy Tucker, of Kidstuff, said Timaru On Show was a great success for her store, but "some people might stop shopping if they couldn't park down the street".

"All the customers that came in [during Timaru On Show] said it was fantastic, but they just couldn't find a car park."

Gil Evatt, of Just Jeans, said she liked the idea, but last Friday was not a success for the store.

"We got less foot traffic - less people came into the shop that day. But I love the idea, if it worked."

However one retailer, who declined to be named, said it would be a "total disaster; a ludicrous idea" because the street would look empty.

"With half-hour parking, cars are coming and going."

Emily van Jaarsveld, of Pascoes, said she believed people were a lot more relaxed when the street was closed. Enforcing the closure permanently was "neither here, nor there" for the store.

However, she understood other stores would rely on parking for their clientele.

Mays Bakery manager Cliff Marshall said although his stores were often busy when the street was closed to traffic, he was at risk of losing the customers who could not drive down the street.

"For what we'd gain, we would probably lose as well."

Mikee Dickson, of 2Stags, said if there were no car parks, people just carried on, but the closure did have its benefits. "When they closed the street the other day, it automatically had a more festive feel to it; it benefits us in terms of more tables and chairs outside."

Ashleigh Helm, of Craigs Hairdressers, said the convenience of parking was good for business. When people could get a car park, they tended to pull in and get a haircut.

Linda Butler, of Timaru Sewing Centre, said customers "probably wouldn't find it a good idea because they like parking as close to the shop as possible".

"The plus side is that it would be nice not to have the noise and pollution."

Timaru Retail Association chairman Keith McRobie said the convenience of "virtually being able to drive to the front door" of shops was an aspect many people liked. However, he had wondered if a one-way system would work.

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- The Timaru Herald

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