Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Golden Mile

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  • nzlemming,

    No offence, but in a lot of ways, Newmarket sucks.

    As a visitor only, these days, I'd agree. And I'd posit that most of the reason for that is people like Brewer with their "vision" of what shopping ought to be. Perhaps we should have a whip round and buy him some glasses...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2173 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Ikea does indeed have only one store for the 20 million-odd people of Beijing

    Same for the 15m in Bangkok. And it's also tapped into the Asian distribution networks so supply isn't an issue. 5 million people spread across two islands is not an attractive customer base for stores like this.

    Likewise with Zara - a dozen stores in Bangkok but they are reliant on centralised Asian distribution nodes.

    We suffer from population and geography when it comes to attracting these guys - and our malls mostly look downmarket and shabby.

    Instead, we have a whole range of really quite wonderful smaller retailers filling niches rather well. There is much better menswear in Auckland than Singapore or KL despite their retail muscle and population density.

    Show me a Strangely Normal or a Marvel in Singapore? You can't mostly because the mega-chains have suffocated the retail spaces.

    And, hell, I like Queen Street now.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    “And I do feel bound to note that the last time I set foot in a big, fancy Queen Street store – Smith & Caughey, to browse the cookware in its sale – I felt very uncomfortable about being shadowed around as if I were a shoplifter.”

    I have only been there twice and it reminded me of a different world, an older, whiter, somehow more British, world.
    I once spent a pleasant afternoon doing “Clipboard Shopping”, just taking notes and measuring things, you will be amazed by the reactions from staff. If they ask if they can help get them to hold the end of the tape, but I digress.
    The other time I went there was to visit someone who lived upstairs.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4931 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    People will only come somewhere like Queen Street to shop if it offers retail experiences that are unique, as opposed to the ubiquitous chain store experiences that can be found in any mall - where parking is free, punters feel 'safe' and exercise required is minimal.

    To my mind Queen Street is quite lively, compared to the tumbleweed aesthetic of a few years ago. I'll go to Queen Street for the unique experiences: Real Groovy, Q Theatre, The Town Hall, Giapo's, The Civic, Aotea Square and Smith and Caughey's (very occasionally). I have my fingers crossed for the restoration of the St James Theatre, as this was a terrific live music venue, and I used to love going to gigs there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    No offence, but in a lot of ways, Newmarket sucks.

    I stopped going to Newmarket regularly when The Downlow Concept moved from Khyber Pass Road to Halsey Street but since the Film Society moved to the Rialto this season I’m back… And, boy, it’s hard to miss there’s an awful lot of empty “medium to large” retail space there.

    I’m surprised I need to tell Brewer this, but you know why landlord are carving up their properties into “shoebox” stores? It’s called the market adapting to meet demand, and the simple reality that an empty shell is making a nil return on investment.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Simon Bennett,

    I have my fingers crossed for the restoration of the St James Theatre, as this was a terrific live music venue, and I used to love going to gigs there.

    Same. And cosying up to SkyCity removes the one major prospect of restoring the St James as part of a competing convention centre proposal. Most cities would value their heritage buildings more, expecially when we have so few left after the wanton destruction of the 1980s.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    there’s an awful lot of empty “medium to large” retail space

    Perhaps our commercial property market has been distorted by lack of capital gains tax like residential?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Webber,

    the city’s original, elegant east-west plan, with its spectacular concentric circles.

    So that's why Waterloo Quadrant is not a Street or a Road or an Avenue. It was supposed to be a sector equal to one quarter of a circle. Cool old factiod discovered. Thanks RB.

    Since Nov 2006 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Lyall,

    I would have thought the number of media to high end retailers in Queen St (especially below Victoria St) was pretty good.

    The major problem I would have is actually the banks and similar (such as Delottes) which take a large pieces of frontage with one door, boring glass and the odd ATM. Discouraging more of them would probably help.

    I’m always surprised at that seems to be room for “just one more” foreign exchange shop too.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 23 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    If Cr Brewer had his way, Queen St would probably look like just another cut-and-paste shopping mall minus the roofing. I’d have Cuba Street over that any day.

    Well quite, but Queen St has nothing in common with Cuba St. I just see a Queen St full of souvenir-shops. There are interesting areas coming up around Queen Street; like Elliot Stables, High St, Britomart and Fort St, but Queen Street itself is mostly junk.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Bring back the Friday Night Cruising I say.
    There is more to Queen Street than Retail.

    But we cant have stuff like that happening, it might frighten the middle Class.
    Especially after they have read this...
    Nights of fear and loathing - Queen St on a Friday night

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4931 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

    That map is great, and also rather... colonial?

    "Reserved for a church and for the general use of the Natives."

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2144 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to JacksonP,

    the Natives

    otherwise known as those who donated all the land

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to Sacha,

    donated

    Posted without comment. ;-)

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2144 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to JacksonP,

    the CBD and inner suburbs was a gift. but I know what you mean elsewhere.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to Sacha,

    Fair enough. I won't derail further.

    Would it be inappropriate to revisit the Murray Cammick post Flash Cars? Following on from Steve's comment above.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2144 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    It doesn't take long in Newmarket to see that being a retailer in the self proclaimed golden mile is not an easy row to hoe. Back street shops open up presumably because the lease is cheaper on the back street. Maintaining a main street medium sized store seems to require a rock solid product line and very deep corporate backing to cover any fluctuations.

    I like parts of Newmarket but I really don't see any need for more than one street like that in Auckland. I'd much rather see Queen street become something different.

    Perhaps having Queen street become something even uniquely New Zealand with a blend of cultural approaches to shops might not be the worst thing to happen. Heck a really adventurous council could actively encourage it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3426 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Bennett,

    A really adventurous council might consider closing Queen Street to traffic. Same for Ponsonby Road.

    Then a tram loop put in place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 143 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Simon Bennett,

    tram loop

    Buses fine in the meantime. Scale not really right for pedestrians in Queen St though - rather they got through-traffic out of High St and gave pedestrians priority across Victoria, Wellesley etc to link Aotea/education precinct all the way down to waterfront.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Just because these tiny shops selling tat aren't vanilla-chain-store-commerce doesn't make them Cuba Street. For a supposed heart of the city, which we've all spent many many millions on, it would be great if we had developed a vibrant, useful, attracting place. I doubt Cr Brewer is the man to put together THAT plan, but it doesn't change that a lot of what's there is seemingly pretty rubbish*. The ethnicity angle is a weird one though...

    *All from my admittedly brief excursions of course, normally to the immediately adjacent areas that are increasingly vibrant and attractive. And I'm including a bunch of the chain restaurant and bank HQ offerings in that assessment

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1721 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Especially after they have read this...
    Nights of fear and loathing - Queen St on a Friday night

    Has it changed much in the last 11-12 years? When I last visited AKL for the Armageddon Expo maybe around 2007, I didn't feel all that threatened come night time, and the Rainbow Hotel near the big needle offered (and still offers) cheap & cheerful accomodation. And get this - I managed to get round town without having to hire a car.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4365 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Waugh,

    I can't help but wonder if the small shops is a result in part from the insanely high rents charged on retail space with high foot traffic counts?
    Difficult to cover the cost of rent on larger spaces.
    I'm not sure what Q street rents are but it can't be less than what I was recently quoted on a shop on Cuba st in welly I was thinking of opening in........ $10k per square meter per annum plus GST plus 100% of outgoings, although that was in an earthquake strengthened building I guess?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Simon Bennett,

    I have my fingers crossed for the restoration of the St James Theatre, as this was a terrific live music venue, and I used to love going to gigs there.

    Sorry for sounding like a broken record on the subject, but Len? If you’re lurking, commissioning another report that says exactly the same as the last one is a stalling tactic well past its use-by date. I know cultural infrastructure is seldom politically easy or popular, but neither is having a rotting eye sore across the street from The Civic. Please break with tradition and learn something from history.

    Back street shops open up presumably because the lease is cheaper on the back street.

    Up to a point, yes - and there are plenty of business models where high foot traffic(and paying a rental premium for it) isn't that relevant. Why would Unity Books in High Street, or Strangely Normal around the corner in O'Connell Street, even think about moving onto Queen Street? It makes sense for Whitcoulls or Hallensteins, but one size doesn't fit all -- or even, necessarily, most.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    but Len

    He and his organisation were behind the proposal that featured the St James. Government chose SkyCity's bid for our national convention centre instead - let's be clear where the responsibility lies.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Simon Bennett,

    and the Ponsonby tram loop is a red herring courtesy of the suburb's MP. Nowhere near the usage base to make it viable compared with buses.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16794 posts Report Reply

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