'A great story': Mayor Jim Boult opening Ferg's Bar. PICTURE: STILL VISION PHOTOGRAPHY


WHAT downturn?

Despite Covid-19 border closures causing business carnage, five operators – an art gallery, a car dealership and three hospo companies managed to open new outlets between last Friday and Monday.

After fashion store World closed in Church Street, Artbay Gallery owner Pauline Bianchi, who has galleries upstairs and across the road, decided to open a third outlet.

“I just think out of turbulent times comes opportunity, and when opportunity comes knocking and you have an idea for a new concept, you take a risk and do it.”

That new concept is a gallery of uber-contemporary and light works, following a successful exhibition of light works by Wellington artist Max Patte which she hosted early this year.

Then there were three: Pauline Bianchi’s third Artbay Gallery

“I started my first business during the GFC so I figured, let’s start another one post-Covid,” Bianchi says.

Queenstown Motor Group owner Ken Cummings has launched Southern Value, at Frankton, as “a little pop-up shop”, he says.

It’s selling lower-priced vehicle brands pitched at those with less discretionary spending in the current climate.

“I think there’s a market for it and we’re keen to give it a go,” he says.

After a construction delay caused by the lockdown, Queenstown’s Ferg group, famous for Fergburger, has opened Ferg’s Bar.

It’s employing 20 staff and serving food and beverage from 7am till 2am every day.

At last Friday’s opening, mayor Jim Boult commented: “What a great story in a time when we’re looking at businesses possibly closing, here’s one going the other direction, opening and employing more staff.”

However, due to Covid-19, the group’s put plans for an Arrowtown precinct, that was to employ another 40 staff, on hold.

In another the ‘sieze the day’ situation, Captains Restaurant, in The Mall, has capitalised on Wai Group shutting The Fat Lamb to expand next door and add a bar to its dining offering.

“It’s something we’d always hoped to do,” co-owner Jenny Goulding explains.

She also has plans for The Fat Lamb’s former upstairs space, but won’t divulge them just yet.

MacKenzie Coffee Co. owner Mike Collins is another businessperson not holding back.

He’s built another coffee cart and installed it in the airport forecourt, and has started construction of Splash Cafe at the Events Centre, which will open late this month.

“Coffee’s recession-proof,” he says.

“People maybe aren’t going to have a $30 lunch any more but their $5 coffee’s still going to be in their daily routine.”