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Treats high on request list for returning shoppers

Flagstaff Team

Bunch time… Morag Burden of Devonport Flowers was among local businesspeople back in action under Alert Level 3, with further freedoms to come in Level 2.

Devonport peninsula shoppers are voting with their stomachs in choosing where to spend their discretionary dollar under lockdown.

For cafes, restaurants and takeaways hard hit by Auckland’s extended lockdown, being able to serve up treats again is welcome, but still far from normal trade. Specialty stores are also happy to be of service again under Alert Level 3, with the likes of flowers and books attracting online orders as well as passing trade.

But business is patchy, a number of Victoria Rd traders told the Flagstaff. It comes in waves with the weather and tummy rumblings – varying from queues for morning-coffee, lunchtime pie or dinner pick-up to times when the main street looks like it is waiting for a tumbleweed to roll by.

Neighbourhood cafes, including at Hauraki and Belmont, say regulars are returning. They are keen for favourite foods such as almond croissants at Good Time Jo and artisan bread sandwiches at Daily Bread.

Tot’s Pantry Café says it is serving a mix of regulars and being discovered by walkers on Williamson Ave. “Coffee is the big thing, but quiches, fresh muffins and scones sell too,” said Hauraki tertiary student and part-time barista Livia Lauren.

Sierra café in Devonport is staying open all day, but owner Soo Yang said she has noticed a number of older morning regulars don’t seem to be venturing out as much as they used to, which she puts down to Covid concerns. It was better to be open than not, but tough for businesses due to uncertainty, she said. “The government focuses on labour not the employer.” More certainty about support would help at a time when business owners still had costs to meet and could not afford to pay their own wages, let alone look to employ more staff. “The costs go up, but prices can’t.”

Come on in… Devonport peninsula shopkeepers opened the doors in Alert Level 3 lockdown. At Sierra cafe staff (above, from left) Bona Ryn, owner Soo Yang and Joy Kim were pleased to be seeing customers again, but Yang says the Covid-19 uncertainty is unsettling everyone.

At the Natural Health Company staff member Jana Taylor said the first week back was the busiest due to people stocking up. One trend was the buying of immune-support products.

Paradox Books customer Julia Winther, who lives in Bayswater, said she was desperate to get back to her photography work in the city. But in the meantime she was seeking out some titles she was keen to read. Part-time shop assistant Dinah Saxby said it was good that people were keen to support the local shops.

The owner of Devonport Flowers, Morag Burden, said she was getting more business from people outside Devonport wishing to send flowers to reconnect with loved ones here than in local sales. But “it’s been going pretty well”, she said.

“As a business you can’t just sit at home and wait for a handout.” Instead she got stuck in online and put a stand of spring flowers outside her shop. “They’re nice and cheery.”

Being seen to be open was a way to ensure customers came back, rather than finding they had started shopping elsewhere.

“Christmas is coming and that’s always a good time for Devonport.”

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