Hastings toy shop closing after 27 years

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Apple Activities' Di Charlton says increased insurance premiums for the Willowpark Rd brick building in Hastings was the final straw for the business. Photo/Paul Taylor

By Patrick O'Sullivan

After 27 years selling quality toys, Apple Activities closes its doors for the last time today.

Owner Di Charlton said over the last two years the Hastings business traded at a loss.

"My main customers are the older grandmothers because a lot of people are either shopping online or at the major stores, which are now big on toys," she said.

As specialist toy shops increasingly closed importers were struggling to find outlets, so were offering the same range to large retail chains.

She said her suppliers' sales representatives reported 10 specialist toy shops closed last year in the lower North Island.

The final straw for Apple Activities was a rent increase due to increased earthquake insurance premiums for the Willowpark Rd brick building.

Logan Stone director Frank Spencer said all Hawke's Bay retail areas were suffering long-term decline.

His property consultancy business has undertaken a six-monthly retail occupancy survey for Napier, Hastings, Taradale and Havelock North CBDs for 21 years.

Since 2012 Hastings retail occupancy fell 10.7 per cent, Napier 1.9 per cent, Havelock North 1 per cent and Taradale 0.2 per cent.

The February survey highlighted the continuing impact of retail chains - generally larger stores - and the clustering of stores for convenience, often on city fringes.

In the year to February Napier occupancy increased 4.3 per cent, Havelock North 3.6 per cent, Taradale had a slight decrease of 0.7 per cent while Hastings fell 5.2 per cent.

He said the Hastings decline was largely due to the relocation of Rebel Sports to a new store in The Park Mega Centre, a large format retail development that was not covered in the survey.

The Rebel Sports building has since found a new tenant.

"Boutique stores and hospitality outlets meeting the growing demand for a leisure

experience were strongly represented within the surveyed centres," Mr Spencer said.

"These activities are likely to be key to keeping the retail cores of each location vibrant."

He said Napier retailers benefited from the lack of large-format retail such as in Hastings.

Napier's figures were slightly skewed due to the amount of redevelopment taking place, with those buildings excluded from the last survey.

Mrs Charlton said she worried about the future of retail for the next generation.

"We are very lucky in Hawke's Bay to have Havelock North and Taradale, because they have small boutique shops."

She said people were no longer buying quality items with an expectation they would last many years.

"By the time my customer is first pregnant in her late 20s she has had five or six cellphones, so why would they buy a good-quality toy?"

The Apple Activities building will become a food outlet.

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5 Comments

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07:49 pm Monday 27 March 2017
Retail is down but landlords aren't dropping rents.

Andrew Costello

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09:09 pm Tuesday 21 March 2017
Everybody wants to shop online for cheaper and cheaper prices, but NZ will end up like the USA, where everything is cheap junk and there are no jobs.

fuseseven

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09:09 pm Tuesday 21 March 2017
the govt has made it so eszy to buy on line from other countries with there trade agreements that retail in this country is dead. the funny thing is that small bisness voted for them. thus shooting them selfs in the foot.

William

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09:09 pm Tuesday 21 March 2017
The attention span with the modern children with expensive longer lasting toys would be more the reason for the closure, as a Grand Parent I for one won't invest in expensive long lasting toys, simply because after 3 weeks of use they are shelved never to be used again, blame what you like but that is what it is, and I think the main player is the variety of TV programmes as one of the reasons, not to mention that the use of the modern phones to play games on is incredible, I was in a Dr's waiting room recently, and 3 pre schoolers were all playing games on phone's........the modern World!!!

A Bs

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09:09 pm Tuesday 21 March 2017
Sadly, local leaders have lacked the vision and drive needed to revitalise Hastings. It was embarrassing how the local council was suckered in to selling the old sports park to a developer and defended their decision as bringing 'more shops', giving people 'more choice' and some ridiculous rubbish about how a concentration of big stores would help Hastings retailers, a view completely at odds with the good quality research on the issue. All that happened is that the big boxes moved around the corner , likely concentrating foot traffic away from the CBD, and a prime opportunity for Hastings was lost. Retail isn't dead, but it does need to move with the times, and a revitalised sports park with small-format retail and spaces to give shoppers a great experience, encouragement of new and interesting retail and services...... but all Hastings got was a car park. Thanks Hastings Council (not).

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