Business groups unite to keep Coast in business

Business associations are working together in new ways to support local businesses as they get back to work.

The Coast has three organisations that represent local businesses – Destination Orewa, which as a Business Improvement District (BID) represents all Orewa businesses, with compulsory membership; the Silverdale Area Business Association, which has a voluntary membership of around 120 currently; and the one-year-old Business Whangaparaoa, also with voluntary membership, currently at 83.

Destination Orewa manager Hellen Wilkins says although the three groups have worked together behind the scenes before, it is the first time they have come together so publicly to support businesses.

“These are extreme circumstances, and so although the three areas are all competing for the same dollar, we also need to support the wider community,” Hellen says. “We also want to drive traffic to the Hibiscus Coast as a whole, while retaining the individual brands of the areas we represent.”

Encouraging people to shop local is a main focus. The joint initiatives include showcasing an overarching Coast brand under the banner Keep it on the Coast.

In addition, Orewa will run its own campaigns, including looking at ways of attracting tourists to the region.

Hellen says the 15 or so Orewa businesses she asked about rent are saying that generally landlords have been compassionate during lockdown, with tenants getting rent reductions of between 20-100 percent.

However, enforced closure during lockdown has already seen three Orewa businesses shut permanently – Alley Katz café, The Rock Kitchen and Coconut Gallery.

Florist shop Fleurette closed last weekend, but Silverdale Area Business Association’s (SABA) new chair, Theo Simeonidis, says he doesn’t know of any other Silverdale businesses closing for good.

However, he says everyone will be struggling to make up for the cashflow lost over lockdown.

“Once the brakes come off we want businesses to get together, collaborating and networking to get out of the hole we are now in,” Theo says.

He says as well as the joint Buy Local campaign, SABA will have a business networking programme and special rates for membership to foster that collaboration.

“We are determined to help our local businesses succeed and make the Silverdale area the economic powerhouse it has the potential to be, despite the recent setback from Covid-10,” he says.

Mitre 10 has closed its store on Karepiro Drive. A spokesperson says this is due to the financial impact of Covid-19 and that there is a chance it could reopen in Spring depending on economic conditions.

Whangaparaoa Business activator Sarah Carr has not heard of any other businesses on the peninsula closing, but is sure this will happen.

She encourages businesses to get in touch with their local associations to share their stories and find out the support and activities each has available.

Meanwhile, large events that bring business into the shops are all on hold until at least November.
Hellen Wilkins says a lot of events are funded through corporate sponsorship and grants as well as gaming funds.

“Who knows what that territory looks like right now? It’s good promotion, but can corporates afford it? There are many unknowns, she says.”

She says the first event casualty is the Buskers Festival, which has been held in Orewa in February for seven years and is largely funded by Destination Orewa.

“People love it, but we need to allocate that money to fill any funding gaps so we can run other events.”

Hellen says the consensus among the 20 Auckland BIDs is that it will take at least three months once the country is out of any Alert Levels, to find out which businesses will be okay and which won’t.

“We feel for the small businesses, especially family owned ones – when they close, the whole family loses its income. If there is a positive in this, it is that any new business that comes into town brings a new vibrancy but sadly that will be through another’s misfortune.”

“Being open is one thing, but it’s about being able to sustain that – which is why buy local is so important.”

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