A Whanganui collaborative retail space has hit the market just six months after its launch.
The Marketplace, a Victoria Ave retail space designed for small businesses, has been put up for sale. It includes the shop fittings, website and systems in place.
The idea was born in August 2020 by local entrepreneur Robert Scott and officially launched in November with eight tenants in the old Farmers building adjacent to Majestic Square.
Created as a chance for businesses to test themselves in the retail sector without the hefty initial costs, Scott said he thought the idea still had some validity and was a potential solution to big, empty buildings.
Scott, who does not own the building, said it was sad to see the idea not fully take off and he would do some things differently if he tried it again.
"We had a six-month timeframe and maybe that was a bit optimistic to get something as ambitious as this up and running in six months."
He said the uptake from potential first-time retailers wasn't what he expected it to be.
"There was a lot of fence-sitting. We hoped they would jump in when they saw it. People are a bit wary during this time."
The New Zealand Luggage Company sales director Terry Gaskin said it was always going to be hard for his business as travel was off the cards due to Covid-19.
"I've done retail here in this town for 12 years and it has always been reasonably successful."
With the news of the transtasman bubble, Gaskin hoped that would give his business a bit of a boost.
"You can't buy suitcases at this price, it's as simple as that."
Operating in retail post-Covid was always going to be difficult, Scott said.
"We needed more merchants, we needed shoppers and we needed more stock. We would certainly do things differently."
Just because the collaborative retail space didn't take off, Scott said the idea definitely still had merit.
"For the smaller operator or the newbie, it's the perfect starting point for them to explore whether retail can be a reality for them," Scott said.
Gaskin said if it had been tried "in any other town in New Zealand, it would have flown".
The Marketplace had numerous discussions with major retailers over the last six months on the possibility of moving into the premises, Scott said.
"It has been a pretty standard response. Either radio silence or it's not a good time for expansion plans. People are a bit risk averse.
"Maybe it was a good idea, maybe it was the wrong time."
The Marketplace will close on May 15, with Scott encouraging shoppers to support the retailers until then.
"Come down and support some good people and their small, local businesses."