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The Quest to become New Zealand's Most Commercially Resilient Town
BUSINESS & INNOVATIONBUSINESS & INNOVATION
Home to about 13,000 residents, Gore
is the quintessential New Zealand
town, long treasured for its range of
shops, cafes and businesses that service
thousands more from the surrounding
rural district. Its CBD has always been a
favoured destination for farming families
to socialise, use services and re-stock
Although Gore hasn’t been affected as
much as other areas by changing consumer
spending patterns, the closure of some
stores was enough to sound warning bells
across its business community. This was
picked up by Gore’s progressive council as
a time for action. What followed has been
a unique solution that has re-engaged both
the retail community and consumers.
In 2015 Gore District Mayor Tracy
Hicks met with Gore’s CBD community to
identify their common goals. Before long
a joint business and council initiative was
launched under the GoRetail banner.
Working with town centre revitalisation
specialists First Retail Group, stakeholders
developed a comprehensive programme
of discovery and action aimed at the CBD
actively ‘meeting its market.’
First Retail’s Lorraine Nicholson believes
rapid changes in the retail landscape have
dramatically altered consumers’ wants and
needs in recent years.
“Gore is listening to its residents,
visitors and the local business community
in making sure the town centre meets
expectations in terms of range and offer,”
Understanding these expectations,
sharing Gore’s goals and seeking feedback
has been a joint effort between retailers,
the council and the local media.
Hokonui Radio host Luke Howden
has backed the initiative from the start.
Through his breakfast show and social
media pages, he has been actively ‘taking
the pulse’ of the community and feeding
ideas back to businesses.
“Listeners have been quick to share
what they like and what they want to see
more of. It’s certainly something that’s
captivated our whole community,” he said.
Feedback uncovered the need for
retailers to widen stock ranges, look to
new categories and develop consistency in
“Matching expectations around
opening hours in smaller towns is always
a challenge. While shoppers expect
Changes to consumer spending patterns, brought
about through online shopping, busier lifestyles
and a tightening economy have impacted many
towns and cities across New Zealand. In order
to combat the trend before it took its toll on
their own doorstep, Gore’s business community
grouped together and developed a strategy to
protect their treasured township.
WORDS SONIA GERKEN - GORE DISTRICT COUNCIL
trends, independent businesses in Gore
have decided Sundays are best as a day
for family, friends and sport so they
have elected to remain closed, except
during key seasons such as the lead-up to
Despite being closed Sundays, business
owners agreed local retailers should still
be able to trade online, with customers
assured they can collect their purchases
the very next day or have them delivered.
This is where the GoRetail digital strategy
comes into play.
For some years now many businesses in
the town have been punching above their
weight in e-commerce. Every day orders
from retailers wing their way across the
globe making Gore one of New Zealand’s
flagships for online trading. As part of the
new digital strategy, the goal is to help
other store owners reach beyond their
traditional boundaries and achieve the
same online success.
One businesswoman experiencing
that success is Joanne Hall from Donald
Buckley Photographics. As part of a sector
that has changes year to year, she is kept
busy transforming her business areas and
ranges to reflect consumer demand.
Along with her store on Gore’s Main
Street, Joanne has embarked on a
comprehensive online strategy to grow
awareness of spending attrition. “We
realised there was a lot of our type of
work being sent out of town, and other
businesses were in the same boat. What
was needed was a website that brought
together Gore’s wider retail offer –
highlighting the products and services that
are available in our town,” Joanne said.
Ergo, Gore’s collective e-commerce
portal goretail.nz – a platform to showcase
what Gore has on offer. Along with the
online strategy, the GoRetail group has
developed a mentorship programme that
helps retailers leverage all aspects of their
businesses to build retail capability and
While still in its early stages, the
initiative has already been seeing results
and has ultimately created a stronger, more
collaborative business community striving
toward the same goal.
“Our vision is to make Gore New
Zealand’s most commercially resilient
provincial town, and with GoRetail I think
we are definitely on the right track,” Mayor
“Gore is listening
to its residents,
visitors and the
making sure the
town centre meets
terms of range
businesses to be open extended hours,
it’s simply not possible but there are
solutions,” Lorraine said.
Across New Zealand retailers have been
rationalising opening hours, with Sundays
a key focus. Mayor Hicks said the local
solution to this has seen a collaborative
approach from retailers that retains Gore’s
lifestyle and values while meeting the
needs of its community.
“Based on business feedback and
84 Main St, Gore 9710
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