The Department Store, Takapuna, the brainchil' />

Lucy Vincent-Marr, co-owner of The Department Store, Takapuna, the brainchild of Karen Walker, Stephen Marr and Dan Gosling, which sells a number of brands including Topshop, Karen Walker, Nature Baby, Simon James and Stolen Girlfriends' Club. She talks to Gill South.

The Department Store is a multi-sensory retail and service experience. We are on three levels: fashion retail with design and homewares on the ground floor with La Boulange café; level one, Lucy & the Powder Room and high end lingerie and skincare; level 2, Stephen Marr hair salon and ever changing fashion labels Tigerlily, Ruby, Havaianas, I Love Ugly and Topshop.

Our main proposition is to curate the very best edit, all under one roof, and to take the stress out of Christmas for our customers. We want to create that old-world experience around the festive season and make it more enjoyable, rather than people feeling harried and stressed.

We have a series of in-store events in the lead up to Christmas, making the experience unique and special for our customers. Some days we will be offering champagne and strawberries, and eggnog on other days. We also have the Core Quartet in-store playing Christmas carols as well as Kiwi songstress Lisa Crawley.


Later in December, closer to Christmas, we will have an in-store butler to make everyone feel 100 per cent looked after. Our butler, Valo, used to be the private butler to the Ryvita family. He's going to be our maitre d' for a few days running up to Christmas. The kind of thing we wanted to do was a modern product edit of 'Are You Being Served?', making your shopping experience more enjoyable (great for people who don't know what to buy!)

One of the key initiatives for our Christmas drive this year is our collaboration with 'Where's Wally'. We've designed limited edition bags, wrapping paper and gift cards with the Where's Wally artwork, and staff are dressed in stripey tees, beanies and horn-rimmed glasses for December. It brings some fun into the store in what is often a very stressful time for shoppers.

Rather than hiring more staff who may not know the store so well, our staff work longer hours during the Christmas period and we have some extended late nights to accommodate people's busy schedules We do employ a lot more temporary staff around activities - musicians, the butler/concierge, complimentary gift wrapping and so on.

November and December are traditionally two of our busiest months, so all departments have stocked the shelves with great gift ideas and popular products. On a busy day we'll have up to 40 staff and 100 customers throughout the store at one time, so it's imperative our systems are smooth and the staff are well trained.