The Lollie Shop set to close

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The Lollie Shop co-owner Neil Thomas in store in the Cambridge Place Arcade.

IT is the end of an era for another Southland-owned business in Invercargill’s CBD with The Lollie Shop set to close.

Owners Neil and Karen Thomas, who have had the business for 13 years, said they decided to close down as a result of the high costs associated with relocating the business and other soaring costs.

“Naturally I am not that happy [about closing] because I have enjoyed doing it,” Mr Thomas said.

“Unfortunately it is time to give up. It is sad, but it is reality.

“I have been very lucky to have had a very loyal customer base and I sincerely thank them for their support.”

The Thomas’ along with other business owners in the block bordered by Tay, Kelvin, Esk and Dee Sts, are in the process of moving out as the block’s new owners HWCP Management Ltd move forward with plans to build a large multi-million dollar covered complex for retail and hospitality on the site.

The Lollie Shop is the second Southland-owned business to close as a result of the proposed development.

Lusty’s Showcase Jeweller owners Brian and Margaret Lusty closed their family-owned jewellery store on Esk St last year, citing high relocation costs as part of the reason for the closure.

Mr Thomas said he had been pleased with the assistance he had received from his “landlords”, including their help in looking for alternative premises.

However, nothing suitable was available, he said.

Under the Food Control Plan, they needed kitchen facilities to bag lollies, but there were no premises with kitchen facilities available in the CBD, he said, and it was too costly to install kitchen facilities.

He had considered relocating the business outside of the CBD, including in the Windsor Shopping Centre, but again had been unsuccessful in finding suitable premises, he said.

Other factors involved in their decision to close down were the increasing cost of imported products as a result of the devaluing New Zealand dollar over the past 12 months and “skyrocketing” freight charges, he said.

The cost to freight a pallet from Auckland had risen from $80 to $140, he said.

“We can’t keep passing these costs on [to customers].

“It gets to a point where there is buyer resistance to the price.”

Mr Thomas said there was no fixed closing date at this stage.

“It depends on how fast the stock goes. The rate it is going, it will probably be within the next few weeks.”

His next challenge would be to find a new job, he said.

“If anyone wants someone with experience in retail, contact me.”

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