In a first-time inner-city metro-style offering, The Warehouse flings back the doors of a unique new mini-store at 8am today, showing off a format never seen in any of its other stores and extremely unlikely to be repeated.
Shane Cornelius, The Warehouse operations general manager, said the new "click and collect" store in the Atrium on Elliot in Auckland's heart was a complete one-off, leased to replace the chain's Downtown store which shuts in May when that mall is being demolished.
Low ceilings, low racking, miniature pallets to stock it and one combined checkout are unusual features of the store almost diagonally across from Smith and Caugheys' back entrance on Elliot St, and one block to the west of Queen St, between Victoria St and Wellesley St.
Not only is the shop far smaller than other Warehouses, but customers will shop in the "click and collect" style: if their item is not in stock, they will pay and it will either be delivered to the Atrium store the next day or to their home for a $6 to $50 one-off fee per item.
The new replacement store is aimed particularly at Auckland CBD's 30,000 inner-city apartment dwellers, 50,000-plus students and 100,000 office workers and Cornelius said it had many unique aspects.
At 1800sq m, it has the chain's smallest footprint: only 700sq m more than the size of a traditional quarter-acre Kiwi urban section or about a quarter the size of its much larger suburban Warehouse counterparts.
"We're half the size of the Downtown," Cornelius said, referring to Precinct Properties NZ's demolition plans and 39-level $681 million rebuild.
One checkout is in the lingerie area near the fitting rooms for very specific purposes: "If you don't have the right size, you can order and pay for it there," Cornelius said.
The Johnsonville store was similar in size to the Atrium, Cornelius said, and the chain would have liked more Auckland CBD space if it could have leased it.
"But this would be the smallest in New Zealand," he said of the store to be managed by Vivien Larkins, formerly of The Warehouse, Newmarket.
Shoppers won't get full-sized trolleys; instead, they will choose from either half-sized trolleys or red shopping baskets.
"We expect it to be predominantly a basket store," Cornelius said.
But the outlet was not a temporary or pop-up store because a long lease had been struck, he said.
Adult clothing, confectionery, cards, manchester or homeware, beauty products, bakeware and toys are some of the major product lines. Food and drinks, coffee machines, towels, cell phones, electronic accessories and damage-free wall hooks could be some of the more popular items.
Simon Turner, The Warehouse chief executive, said the new city retail model, when combined with online shopping, would provide customers with choice and flexibility, offering the full product range, all with the convenience of being able to shop in the city.
"We're committed to making bargains accessible for each and every New Zealander, as well as providing a great selection of everyday essentials to suit the typical Kiwi lifestyle.
"We have invested considerable time into finding a new, central city location which offers customers the 'pop in' style of shopping they would expect from the CBD, combined with better access to great products, and of course those everyday low prices," Turner said.
Warehouse store sizes
• Atrium on Elliot: 1800sq m
• Albany: 7232sq m
• Sylvia Park: 9100sqm
Atrium on Elliot
• New "click and collect" style of shopping offered.
• Lingerie-based checkout so customers can pay for garments not in stock, collect later.
• Tiny pallets on wheels for stocking shelves, because bigger forklift-style pallets unable to fit.
• Low height racking because of low internal building stud height.
• Limited merchandise lines, aimed at apartment dwellers, students, workers.
• No children's clothing, books, DIY, computers - not enough room.