Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Retailers: Market move will hurt us

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A stoush is brewing between the Huntly community and retailers who are trying to block attempts to move the Friday market to a large, council-owned carpark.

Huntly market organiser Ross Baxter is facing strong opposition to his attempts to move the market from the old Countdown carpark on William St to the council-owned area on Tane Mahuta Drive near KFC in a bid to attract more shoppers.

But local retailers say the market is affecting their businesses and moving it closer to the Tainui Bridge would ensure customers went there before entering the main street.

The discussion came to a head at the Huntly Community Board meeting when there was a heated debate between the parties.

The retailers have the backing of Mayor Allan Sanson, who has said he would struggle to support giving consent for the new site when it would impact on main street businesses.

The market runs between 8am and 1pm and does not require council consent because it is on private land.

"I have a large degree of sympathy for the business community," Mayor Sanson said.

He said the market was also considering operating on Wednesdays as well as Fridays and he did not not know of any Huntly retailers who supported it.

Clive Kosoof, who runs clothing retailer Les Kosoof and Sons, said it would not be good for the town's long-term future and said it would also take some their customers.

"I'm concerned about where it's going to be in five years' time. What we don't need is fly-by-nighters who don't contribute to the town at all."

He believed about 60 per cent of retailers opposed the new location.

However, Mr Baxter, who also runs the Pukekohe and Pokeno markets and has been running markets for 42 years, said most businesses supported the markets and thought it brought people into the town.

"I will stick to it. I will keep this market in Huntly. All the shopkeepers I have talked to are very happy. I want to help people. I don't want to take all of their business away."

Mr Baxter said the present position struggled to attract people on the west side of the river and he hoped moving closer to the bridge would change that.

The proposed location was also much larger and would enable the markets to expand from the 20 stallholders there each week.

Community board chairman Frank McInally said it was only a minority pushing for the Friday morning markets to close and the market filled a gap that local businesses couldn't service.

"We want it saved because people can buy stuff they can't buy anywhere else. They have a choice and it's half the price."

Mr McInally said he bought from the stalls fresh mussels, hardware and work boots, which weren't available from any shops on the main street.

- NZ Herald

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