‘Wild card’ Wanaka retailer swoops on prized mall spot

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New base: Chris Walsh outside his store's new digs

A Wanaka retailer was told he would never get a spot in Queenstown Mall to bring his clothing store over the hill.

Against the odds Chris Walsh is set to open a branch of his streetwear store, Base, in the resort next week.

Walsh says he was a “wild card” when his agent threw his hat in the ring to get the lease for the former Louis Vuitton premises.

Eight other national and international chain stores tried to swoop on the prized location, he says.

But it was the wild card that trumped.

“It’s a big ups to my landlord but I think I proved myself as a local person who wants to put money into the local economy as opposed to an international chain . . . so I think I’ve really broken the mould there and I’m proud of that.”

Once Walsh got his hands on the space he gutted it and started afresh, completely re-designing the layout.

The revamp has cost him over half a million bucks.

If his track record is anything to go by, expect to see more from Walsh.

Since opening Base in Wanaka in 1999, he has started up and sold women’s fashion store Bella as well as Bike Lounge, which becomes Rocket Rentals in winter.

He also owns, with partners, South Beach, which doubles as Base2 in winter.

Both Base stores will stock the same garments, while a few long-serving staff, including Walsh, will make the trip over to Queenstown a few times a week to get the ball rolling.

Six new local staffers have also joined the team with the search on for one more.

Base will open its doors next Saturday, stocking clothes from brands such as Mons Royale, Federation, Lower, RPM, Huffer and more.

mandy.cooper@scene.co.nz