Woodville retailers optimistic after tough 2012

By Christine McKay

There's an air of excited optimism in Woodville as retailers bounce back from the downturn the 15-month closure of the Manawatu Gorge caused.

And with the million-dollar street upgrade also completed, except for a couple of tweaks, business people have greeted 2013 with wide smiles.

At Woodville's Viking's Haul, owner Evan Nattrass has seen a remarkable difference in trade since the opening of the Manawatu Gorge in November last year.

"I would say business is magnitudes better than last year," Mr Nattrass said. "Having the gorge open is a big factor. The Christmas and New Year holidays are the only time people from up north have the time to stop and look around and there's been a lot of northerners travelling through town. That's good for my business because they know a bargain when they see it."

Mr Nattrass said visitors were appreciating Woodville's great new look and are more inclined to stop.

"It no longer feels like being in business in Woodville is the chore it was last year. We seem to be back in the good times."

Peter Bonser, the owner of Digby's Cafe on Vogel St, agrees.

"The response to the street upgrade has been overwhelmingly positive and comments from customers in my cafe have been great. Business is looking up," he said.

Mr Bonser, a member of the Woodville Upgrade Residents Group, said former residents have also been emailing Tararua Mayor, Roly Ellis, giving him a pat on the back for proceeding with the upgrade.

"Our group is very happy and relieved the upgrade has been met with such a great response. I think the way the council, contractors and our community group worked together throughout the process was the key to its success," he said.

"A lot of our community's wishes were taken into account during the upgrade and even the final details, such as the placement of seats and rubbish bins were decided on by individual shop owners."

Trish Rodwell, co-owner of Yummy Mummy's Cheesecakes, told the Dannevirke News it had been very busy over the holiday period.

"People are travelling and for many it's the first time they've been through Woodville and they're pleasantly surprised how trendy our little town is looking," she said. "People are loving our makeover, saying Woodville is looking so good, it's a worthwhile stopover."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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