Like many Christchurch business owners, Sarah Aspinwall has had days when she thought it would be easier to just walk away.

She and husband Martin run Canterbury Cheesemongers and have had earthquakes write off their shop, ruin stock and threaten the livelihoods of them and their staff.

As they have fought to get the business back on its feet, quakes such as those on June 13 have come along to set things back again.

"There was moments after June, maybe, where we suddenly started feeling nervous - do we want to be here?" Mrs Aspinwall said.


"But I think everybody in Christchurch has those days where they sort of think, 'This is just too hard, or this is too horrible'. Then the next day is better."

Hosting a function yesterday at the new Canterbury Cheesemongers shop, on a clear, still day, Mrs Aspinwall was feeling optimistic about the city's future.

"Are you ever secure in New Zealand from earthquakes? I don't think there is anywhere you can say that about."

When the 7.1 magnitude quake hit in September, the Canterbury Cheesemongers shop in central Christchurch was attached to badly damaged buildings. The Aspinwalls fought to save it, but the whole block had to come down and they had to salvage what they could.

They set up shop from the garage of their home, a van and weekend markets. There was heart-warming support from customers who queued for up to an hour for one "garage sale".

The Aspinwalls took up a government subsidy to keep their three full-time staff on, but eventually had to let them go to take temporary jobs until they could afford to bring them back.

In January, the business moved into the Old Registry Building at the Arts Centre, and insurance paid for most of the refit.

Business started booming "and we were at that point of 'are we going to be able to cope it's so busy?"'


Then the deadly February 22 quake hit, forcing them out of their new shop and writing off about $20,000 of stock. Locked out for weeks, at one pointthey had to sneak past the cordonsto get stock out of the shop.

Many of the buildings in the Arts Centre precinct are in a bad state, but the Aspinwalls' shop has only superficial damage. The June quakes also forced them out temporarily, but engineers cleared them to go back in.

Mrs Aspinwall said there had been fears about how busy the shop would be, but the growing activity in central Christchurch was helping.

"We are doing quite well with our lunchtime trade. There's still a lot of people that don't want to come into [the central city]. It's a bit heartbreaking when you are driving around and seeing all the broken buildings, but you get used to it."

Canterbury Business Recovery Trust executive director Louise Edwards said there had never been a greater need from small businesses in Christchurch.

"They are facing huge challenges."