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Greytown going great guns


Lisa Urbani

Post-covid-19, Greytown has been bustling as residents and visitors explore the quaint town to spend up large in the shops and cafes.

Greytown, founded in 1854 by the Small Farms Association, was New Zealand’s first planned inland town and was established under the Small Farms Association Settlement Scheme.

It is also famous for holding the first Arbor Day celebration in New Zealand, on July 3, 1890.

Despite excellent sales on Queen’s Birthday weekend, some business owners were cautious in their predictions for future economic prospects.

Richard Hassall of the Village Art Shop said “the jury is still out, business is reasonable”.

“Kiwis are supporting us, they are not travelling, so they have spare money to spend on their homes, and people are getting things framed.”

Emporos and Just William owners, Annabel and Grant Cowdery agreed.

They had been very busy in both shops, and people were interested in refurbishing, having spent the lockdown in their homes, many of them having to work from home.

The Greytown Butcher, Gavin Green, said his loyal customers had been very supportive and had shopped online during the lockdown.

He had noticed an increase in a desire for comfort foods like wintry casseroles, which were proving very popular.

Steve Perry, of Wakefield Antiques, was of the opinion that there had “been a bounce since covid-19” and they had been busier than previous Queen’s Birthday weekends.

At Deluxe, John Hedge said it had “been good but quiet during the week”, but over Queen’s Birthday weekend lots of Wellington people had visited, and he hoped it would continue, but being realistic, it was about “getting a balance”.

Saunders Shoes has been in Wairarapa for 72 years, and owner Tracie Donald said it was great to see so many shopping, and she felt very positive.

“We’ve all been very surprised at how well its going”, said Pamela Wickstead of Tapestry, “it takes the pressure off and is encouraging.”

Equally positive in her comments, Tina Dunlop of Shalari Boutique said “any day with cash flow is a good day”.

Mango’s Shane Brown had noticed that there seemed to be confident spending, while at Nirvana, Karen Tomuri had been liaising with clients online during the lockdown, and said it had been a “really enjoyable relationship building experience for both me and our loyal customers”.

The White Swan’s Rosie Broughton was pleased to say they had experienced trade similar to peak summer season, but she was concerned that it was just a honeymoon period and that buying behaviours might become more reserved as time passed and the predicted recession set in.

Adam Blackwell, of Blackwell and Sons, was instrumental in driving the ‘Shop it Forward’ campaign whereby people could order online, and receive their goods, once the lockdown was over.

He felt that the big spend had been hugely encouraged by Destination Wairarapa’s promotion of Wairarapa as a great “escape destination” for Wellington people.

However, he cautioned that retail businesses now had to offer a unique and memorable experience consistently, if they were to reap the benefits.

Alex Beijen, Mayor of South Wairarapa, was confident in his region’s ability to resume business, attributing it to several factors.

Primary production was very active during lockdown and may have lessened the overall effect of the restrictions.

The excellent marketing campaign from Destination Wairarapa, had promoted tourism.

Building consents were being received, and some large commercial projects were under way.

There was strong interest in vacant land.

In short, he said it was “business as usual in the south”.


  1. Very interesting article but on the contrary we found Greytown and Martinborough closed . We stayed at a fabulous Air BNB at late notice on Monday and Tuesday night. On Tuesday we left to go shopping and found that almost 3/4 of the shops were shut, what a disappointment, we were unaware before we came down that this would be the case. Not every traveler can travel in a weekend so it would be nice if it was advertised in other cities that this is the case. Each place that we had been in before was closed, a bit of a wasted trip. Yes I realize that retailers do need a break as they work hard for their money but for tourists, it is frustrating, expected so much as a mid winter theme was supposed to be running.

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