Centre Place may have had a 30-store, $47 million makeover, but unless it boasts free parking it will never compete with The Base.
That was the message from many who queued from 4am yesterday to be the first to visit the new boutique stores bridging Centre Place and the old Downtown Plaza in Hamilton's central business district.
About 1000 eager shoppers formed the queue that stretched from the new Ward St entrance - which joined the old Centre Place to Downtown Plaza, adding dozens of speciality stores - down Worley Place across the Garden Place roundabout into Alexandra St.
Nita Carter and her colleagues from Wintec's marketing department didn't bother to join the queue to be one of 500 to win a Centre Place goodie bag.
"It's only a goodie bag," she said.
"We do need to have a look at the shops and see what businesses are here.
"It's quite exciting as they are creating a new hub.
"Ward St needed it. It was quite derelict before."
But she thought the work would be in vain if free parking was not reintroduced in the city centre.
"It's all about free parking in town, without the free parking it's pointless," she said.
Punters get two hours free in the Centre Place car park with a $10 purchase, compared with The Base at the northern end of town which offers free parking regardless of spend.
Colleague Marg Benefield agreed.
"I wonder if we are going to get free parking in town."
Half sisters Josephine Paul-Richardson, 24, and Jade Paul, 16, who were first in line at 4am to guarantee themselves a goodie bag, also wanted free parking once the opening celebrations died down.
Centre Place was offering four hours of free parking for shopper for the first four days.
"We used to shop here until we had to pay for parking, then we started to go to The Base," Miss Paul-Richardson said.
"It seems like there's more here than at The Base now."
"We just saw on Facebook that they had 500 gift bags to give away.
"We came down at midnight to see if there was a line and there wasn't so went back home again," Miss Paul-Richardson said.
"First in, first served."
But Jennifer and Keli Knox were not concerned about parking.
"It's really good, we prefer to shop here than The Base," Jennifer said.
"I have only been to The Base twice.
"We live in the central city and The Base is quite a long way to go," Keli added.
- Waikato Times