More Masterton shops to shut

By Nathan Crombie

A former Masterton franchise-holder says a trade downturn and big-box retailers are forcing struggling hometown stores out of business.

Jim Pope, who in April closed the doors of his Masterton Tool Shed business in Dixon St, was speaking in the wake of three other retailers closing in the town's CBD in the past two weeks - the Bow & Arrow leather goods retailer, an internet cafe in Queen St and Vinyl Heaven music shop in Jackson St, which shuts today.

Mr Pope now works in the power-tool department of his former rival, Mitre 10 Mega on Ngaumutawa Rd, and believes more shop closures are on the cards for the town.

He said there were other Masterton retailers who would be forced to shut up shop after battling, like himself, against a prolonged economic downturn and unassailable competition from big-box retailers.

"I don't think it's over," he said. "I know there are businesses out there that are struggling. It's only a matter of time before they buckle and close."

Mr Pope had run the Tool Shed as a franchise holder since first opening the business at Master Mall, in partnership with late Masterton property investor Florus Bosch in 2000.

The following year he bought out Mr Bosch and shifted the business to Dixon St, where he remained until shutting the doors after two years of declining business in the wake of the Mitre 10 Mega store opening.

"Closing up shop was a business decision," he said.

"I had 13 good years, very good years. But the Mega store opened and trading was difficult. The last two years were the hardest and things were still okay. But they weren't good enough for me.

"It was either battle on for another five years or stand tall and join Mitre 10 Mega. I only sold power tools at the Tool Shed but they are huge. They have everything. You know, if you can't beat em, join em, and that's exactly what I did."

Adrian Roberts, owner of Vinyl Heaven, blamed "adverse trading conditions" for his decision to close today.

He opened the Jackson St shop about three and a half years ago and from 2010 operated the only Ticketek agency in the town.

He said trading had roared over the first two years and he had built a strong and loyal customer base, who at times had camped out and lined the footpath to buy concert tickets at his shop.

"The first two years were great and I've enjoyed every minute in here," he said. "But it's a tough industry to be in, it really is, and I feel most sorry for my loyal customers.

"I feel like I'm letting them down."

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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