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Birthday candles . . . Gore shop Oui Oui is turning one and owner Jacqui McKinney says business is going well, despite challenges. PHOTO: FIONA ELLIS

People throughout Gore district are lighting candles for a local business and the owner could not be happier.

Oui Oui owner Jacqui McKinney said that despite the challenges inflicted by Covid-19, her clothing, home and giftware store was doing well.

“People have shown an amazing effort to support the local community,” Mrs McKinney said.

“They are making a conscious effort to buy locally.”

She was able to use the time in lockdown Alert Level 4 productively, loading photos on to her website and taking time to work on her business plan, including developing a wholesale range.

“There was definitely a loss during lockdown,” she said.

However in Alert Level 3 she found there was still “a really good response”.

While she had sold a variety of stock, candles and candle refills in particular had been purchased.

She was pleased they were selling so well.

“They’re organic and they’re made in Southland.

“The concept of refills makes people feel they are doing their bit for the environment.

“They’re hand-poured by me.”

She estimated that she had refilled 40-50 candles while in Level 3.

In a typical week she refilled 20-25.

People would leave them in letterboxes to get their refill.

“People are lighting their candles while they’re staying home.”

Oui Oui has its own reason to light a candle this

a weekend.

The shop turns one year old at Queen’s Birthday weekend.

It had made a few adjustments as it looked for a niche to fill.

For example it no longer sold recycled clothing.

The focus remained on ethical and fair-trade products, particularly those made in New Zealand.

It was important for her business plan to have an online presence, and she had started her online store in February.

In hindsight, she had timed this well.

“The website gave me the ease of being able to keep working.

“Without the website I would have struggled to get back on my feet.”

“It was a challenge trying to convey the touch and feel of things and recreate the atmosphere of the shop.”

Despite difficulties, it had been a fantastic year and Mrs McKinney said she was feeling positive about the future.