Collaborative retail space The Marketplace has now been open on Victoria Ave for two months. Mike Tweed visits to ask how it's going.
Oil painter Paul Heather-Xia and his husband Alan moved to Whanganui a year ago with the idea of buying a commercial building, and he has been displaying his work at The Marketplace since it opened.
"Before this we had been living in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Sydney, and Singapore," Heather-Xia said.
"We're really happy to be in Whanganui now, and we're here for the long haul. We're still looking for our own stand-alone shop, but in the meantime, we're really happy with this space.
"Being pretty new to New Zealand means we're not so familiar with everything, so this is the perfect place to test the water."
Xia said he and Alan would be expanding the Heather-Xia Studio into more of The Marketplace in February, to display collectables and furniture.
"People are still coming through, and not just looking at one shop. We've got to know each other pretty well in here as well. We've got our own little community."
Christine Haber's Eclectic Gems and Genteel Junk has occupied the front-left part of the floor since the space opened, and she said the "good variety of product" between each retailer had kept customers interested.
"Building up to Vintage Weekend, I've been absolutely flat-stick," Haber said.
Haber said one thing that had surprised her since opening was the demand for her photographs of Whanganui.
"It's been amazing, I've sold so many Whanganui prints to Whanganui people.
"As you can see, I've still got plenty to sell. My family said 'don't think about popping off any time soon until you've got rid of all your stuff'."
Next door to Haber is Made in the Neighbourhood, a collaborative space for four different people, one of whom is Yvonne Nyenhuis.
Nyenhuis runs Eva and Me, which produces handmade children's clothes, nursery items and decor, and she said people were still coming in to check out the shops.
"Members of the public tend to like a little bit of variety as opposed to one single thing, and that is what we can offer here. You always get a bit of a surprise when people take an interest in what you've made and want to give you money for it.
"There's a really good atmosphere with the other retailers. We look out for other people's shops if they're late one morning, and we help each other out."
Nyenhuis said she wasn't sure if the collective would remain at The Marketplace in the long term, but it was a good place to start.
"You always want to keep your options open. The people here are really nice though, and it's a pretty relaxing place."
Scotties Treasures, run by Neil and Christina Boyd, is the newest arrival at The Marketplace, having only been open for two hours when the Chronicle dropped by.
Their collection of antiques includes a large amount of Robert Burns memorabilia, which was previously housed in their shop in Turakina, and Neil Boyd said he hoped to sell most of it before their time in the space was over.
"People used to come on bus trips just to see it," Boyd said.
It's his [Burns' birthday] on January 25, and Vintage Weekend is coming up as well of course.
"There's good foot traffic here, and now it's about spreading the word and getting people in."
Heather Leaves has been running art supply store HLjKO at The Marketplace since it opened, and displays local artwork in the next space over.
She said it was her first attempt at retailing and she had "jumped at the opportunity" to be involved.
"It's been a little bit quiet since Christmas, but not enough to be too worried about I don't think," Leeves said.
Marketplace founder Robert Scott said there had been "fantastic feedback" from the public since it opened.
"People out there are really keen to see it thrive," Scott said.
"That being said, we do need more retailers. Upstairs is still vacant, and there's room downstairs for more as well.
"We're in uncertain times with Covid-19, there's no doubt about it, and January is hard to read."
Food options at The Marketplace were limited because of the lack of a commercial kitchen, Scott said, but "retail-ready food" was still an option.
"There are so many people making cool things out there in our own community.
"For those who have got a cottage industry and are thinking 'I could make a full-time living out of this', we're want to help. That's my goal."