The launch of Queenstown Community Markets recently has seeded a lot of conversation in the media, and within our community.
As a retail consultant, with over 20 years in the industry and a sustained passion for the
success of small business and its people, I would like to suggest we look at these adaptive and emerging industries through a different sense.
If, for a moment we put aside the vaxxed/unvaxxed conversation, and focus instead on how New Zealanders have been willing to everything in their power to support themselves, their loved ones, their colleagues and their businesses to navigate the challenging conditions Covid has presented, we may discover we have all had the shared experience of constant change and living with the unknown.
Our town is a truly unique environment and we have been selling ‘‘dreams’’ and our potential for some time now.
Tourism has been the water to the roots of many of our start-up businesses.
We are a community of extraordinary creatives, hard-working entrepreneurs and brilliant minds.
Collectively, we have generated an abundance of choice and opportunity for our customers.
Hiking, biking, skiing, flying and bungy jumping, to name a few.
Low-, mid- and high-end accommodation, global luxury.
Street food, family-friendly eateries and outstanding taste experiences in thoughtfully-crafted spaces.
Bulk buying, chain stores, beautifully-curated boutiques and unique independent stores.
Health practices and practitioners, personal trainers and world-class events.
We really have done it all.
People travel from all over the world to experience what we, the people of Queenstown have created.
In these industries, over the last two years in particular, I have observed a significant change in the relationship between the customer and the product.
I believe we are growing new consumer behaviours.
The customer is giving more thought to their product choice and choosing the retailer they wish to support.
We are now seeing less ‘spontaneous’ purchasing.
There are a multitude of drivers that have lead us to this point, and some of us would say, not a moment too soon.
With such diversity in the market place, we are saturated for choice.
Still we are seeing the customer make thoughtful, measured, often educated decisions about their purchase.
I am acutely aware that the privilege of ‘choosing’, and that financial freedom is not available to all.
However, in the end, it comes down to this: The customer chooses and has the right to
choose the experience, the product and the environment they want to interact with.
Let’s not undermine the ability of the individual to make informed choices for themselves.
QCM is no different.
Vendors and small businesses have gathered to offer an alternative or additional retail experience, available to all.
Not dissimilar to the supermarket experience, available to all, the obvious difference being, the markets are in the great outdoors as opposed to being housed inside.
Let the consumer choose … eventually we will see where our interests and loyalties lie.
Maree Cross is a long-time Queenstown resident, retailer and retail consultant