Tony calls time after 33 years

By David Porter

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Tony Truss and his partner Sharyn Henderson at his Tutanekai St store. Photo / Ben Fraser
Tony Truss and his partner Sharyn Henderson at his Tutanekai St store. Photo / Ben Fraser

Tony Truss has been in retail in Rotorua since setting up his first shop in 1983 and will close down Truss Jewellers & Engravers in Tutanekai St next month.

His retirement brings to an end a family retailing connection to the city that goes back to his father who ran a barber shop in the street for 50 years before closing about 1980.

"I've been working since I left school," said Mr Truss, who is almost 60. "It's time to retire."

An engraver by trade, Mr Truss worked for about seven years at Rotorua Gift and Jewellery Centre with self-styled "mad jeweller" Brian McGillivray, who retired in 2014.

After operating from a few sites, Mr Truss opened in Tutanekai St in 2000.

"It's just a small business, but we tick along," he said.

However, the retail environment had changed over the past few decades, he said.

"It's definitely a lot tougher for the little guy in Rotorua since the malls opened. The old part of the city is not the vibrant part of the city it used to be."

Mr Truss also said Tutanekai St tended to miss out on much of the tourist trade, which was bused in and out, and tended to be moved around the major tourist attractions.

"We don't see the tourists in town the way we used to see them."

Rotorua district councillor Karen Hunt, the inner city revitalisation portfolio lead, said Mr Truss made some good points about the changing nature of Tutanekai St.

"Those points are the very reason we're opening up that area and focusing all our efforts on what we refer to as the spine from Rotorua Central to Arawa St up to Pukuatua St."

The whole point of the intersection upgrades was to bring new life to Tutanekai St, she said.

"Shopping habits are changing. People use the inner city far more for recreation and niche shopping."

She also said tourism was changing, with more now fitting the free independent traveller profile, rather than being bused in.

"We're getting tourists with more money and experience. The council's job is to get them to wander around the city by making it an attractive and safe place. The retailers' job is to provide an offering to make them stay longer."

Mike Steiner, spokesman for the Inner City Focus Group, said every business had to adapt. "I think individual personalised businesses have a stronger opportunity of doing that rather than, say conglomerates or chain stores."

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