We often measure the success or failure of a township by the face of its retail precinct.
How often are we confronted in the media with boarded up shop fronts that herald the death of towns – almost anywhere in the world. So a strong retail presence is an imperative, with Warkworth no different to any other provincial town in New Zealand.
Many things contribute to this. Ease of access, parking, the feel of the area and the right mix of businesses. Commitment to leases, sufficient and attractive stock, and strategies to attract custom are all expenses that retailers face just to do business.
To some extent, Warkworth seems to be insulated from the e-commerce trend, most likely due to the types of retail businesses we have in our community. We are told our advantage over e-commerce lies in the personal service and the experience customers get – and what locals and visitors feel.
However, regional growth has put other pressures on Warkworth – just getting here can be a mission, and once you get here, finding a park! Having said that, many successful retail precincts have similar problems to what we experience in Warkworth.
So with these challenges in mind, a number of retailers got together and decided that as businesses, we needed to band together and be one voice. We have established Retail Warkworth – a group to represent Warkworth retailers. Supported and funded by One Warkworth, Retail Warkworth will operate independently – run by retailers, for retailers, to enhance the retail experience in Warkworth.
So as well as promoting Warkworth as a great place to shop and experience what we uniquely offer, Retail Warkworth will also be there to influence what directly affects the retail experience for retailers and customers – such as infrastructure works and other activities that have an impact on our ability to provide the wonderful service we deliver to visitors and locals alike.
The first meeting of Retail Warkworth was held on June 13 and was attended by a small, but enthusiastic number of retailers.
A second meeting of retailers is scheduled for 5.30pm on Wednesday, July 4 at the Bridgehouse back bar to talk through and coordinate upcoming events planned for the township over the next few months.
We look forward to providing locals with very good reasons to continue to buy local and to welcome with open arms, tourists and visitors to our wonderful town.
Kevin Chappell, Retail Warkworth