National chain Hallensteins returns to its retail roots in the resort

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It’s back to the future for the latest national retailer to open its doors in Queenstown. 

The Hallensteins chain, which plans a late-August opening here, was founded by German-born Bendix Hallenstein, who was second mayor of Queens­town from 1869-72. 

Hallenstein made his major move into retail with a general store here, before launching his menswear chain nationally in 1873. 

Those strong Wakatipu links aren’t lost on Hallensteins national boss Glenn Hunter 140 years later. 

“It’s very special to actually be opening a store there,” Hunter says from Auckland. 

He’s been eyeing up Queenstown for a while, he admits, especially with sister chain Glassons already here: “We’ve just been waiting for the right site.” 

The chosen site on upper Beach Street previously housed a Turkish kebab shop, a convenience store and the 36-year-old Silver Fern gift shop. 

A new façade will amalgamate all three tenancies into one space of about 200 square metres. 

Hunter shrugs off the pricey rent, thought to be about $1000 per sq m: “It’s all location and you’ve got to pay top dollar for the good location.” 

The boss of the 47-store chain expects good business from tourists as well as locals. 

“We have an online [shop] as well and we do quite a lot of international business through that,” Hunter says. 

Local accountant Craig Benington, who fronts a syndicate which bought the building 18 months ago, welcomes the arrival of Hallensteins as key tenants. 

“I think there’s a gap in the market for them, we need another men’s clothing store,” Benington says. 

Both landlord and tenant are spending “quite a bit” to get the building ready, he admits – his syndicate’s spend is between $300,000 and $400,000. 

A descendant of Bendix Hallenstein, great-great-grandson Simon Stamers-Smith – a local lawyer and rookie councillor – is tickled pink at his forbear’s namesake chain opening in town. 

“I think it’s great,” Stamers-Smith chuckles. 

Bendix Hallenstein was inducted into New Zealand’s Business Hall of Fame last year.