Ed Said - Big can be beautiful
It was announced before Christmas that flat-pack furniture king Ikea was to make its entrance to New Zealand within the next few years. Rather than aghast, those interviewed on television appeared overjoyed about the opportunity of endless shopping in such a store, the competitive prices, the range of products and so on. Then the guessing games started. Where will it be sited and when? And, of course, how it will be the death knell of smaller similar businesses.
Funnily enough McDonalds, KFC, Wendy’s and Carl’s Junior all went under a similar microscope yet every town you can name – Mangawhai included – has a dozen fast food outlets despite the onslaught of the food kings, and apparently doing quite well, so any perceived opposition actually comes down to a matter of good product and customer choice.
Though some locals shudder at the thought of the conglomerates taking over, how many local Mums relish a day, child-free, cruising the boutiques of the Albany shopping centre? Actually, quite a few. So, is there a difference? Not really, I believe.
In the meantime Ikea will actually be beaten to the punch by ‘Nido Living’ selling furniture, homeware and lifestyle goods. It will be the country's largest ever retailer carrying more than 10,000 product lines plus an instore restaurant and children’s play area. Plans for the store began two years ago and construction began in October so it will be well established years before Ikea actually arrives. The $60m store, bigger than three rugby fields, will open in Henderson in spring this year.
Nido was founded by civil engineer Vinod Kumar, who helped to develop the Mitre 10 Mega concept store. While some members of the public contend of Ikea “you end up buying a whole heap of crap you don't need before you manage to escape”, is this not the case with our revered Red Shed or Kmart?
This then brings me back to Mangawhai and the impending township that will become Mangawhai Central. The plan put forward by Viranda Holdings is definitely a step in the right direction for a fast-growing community but it occupies very little of the 140-odd hectares of the piece of land bordering the causeway, obviously leaving lots of room for further development such as a large department store. Would it harm Mangawhai? I don’t believe so. I reckon Mangawhai would be well served by a decent furniture and homeware store right now. Build it and they will come may be a little hackneyed, but true all the same.
The population of Mangawhai will never get smaller than it is now. Think of the money a major building project will generate, the employment opportunities in the building of said project, and the employment opportunities emanating from the businesses within and ongoing. I read on Facebook almost daily of people who are moving to Mangawhai and are looking for a job in this field or that. The fact that Mangawhai doesn’t have a lot of employment opportunities is no deterrent for these people. Mangawhai is attracting people who have a variety of abilities, skills and qualifications and who will, given the opportunity, add their skills to the existing workforce or create a business where their skills are needed and can be of value to the community.
Adopt and adapt. Change is inevitable but if we embrace it with a positive attitude it can work to the benefit of everyone from the youngest to the oldest. There is a lot that Mangawhai doesn’t have, but I believe that Mangawhai is a place that, in another decade, can have all the big city advantages without big city problems. It makes for an exciting future.