The huge diversity of products on offer at the Southern Field Days shows the intention to attract not only rural dwellers but also their urban counterparts, First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson says.
Mr Wilkinson, who helped set up the GoRetail initiative aimed at making Gore the most commercially resilient provincial town in the country, attended the Southern Field Days for the first time.
Mr Wilkinson said he marvelled at the diversity of exhibits at the field days and the expectation on the part of the retailers that people had turned up to spend.
A relatively strong economy had meant people felt “bullish” and retailers were expectant, Mr Wilkinson said.
The fact it was impossible to find a rental vehicle or accommodation over the time indicated how popular the event was and boded well for its future.
He travelled to the event from Dunedin and the roads were very busy, indicating it was not only the Gore district that was reaping the benefits of the event.
He experienced a traffic jam in Gore’s Main St at 8am, something he did not think he would see in the South.
The numbers of visitors in Gore for the event highlighted the need for more accommodation, he said.
More accommodation was needed in Gore not only for the field days but throughout the year. The town hosted a variety of events annually that attracted visitors but the biggest driver was economic growth.
“However, it’s commercial growth that is driving the majority demand with the likes of the nutrition plant [Mataura Valley Milk] and local businesses that are continually growing in size and reach,” Mr Wilkinson said.
The field days enticed people to “open their wallets” and spend, he said.
The field days not only proved the South could host a first-class event but also indicated the potential for continued strong economic growth.
The Gore district had the capacity to grow and develop, as there was a wide range of skills and capabilities among the populace that would allow for economic growth, he said.
The fact the council was developing a residential subdivision also boded well for the district’s growth.
“It’s not a tough sell – it’s a small town that packs a punch.”
Gore District Council economic development co-ordinator Ceri Macleod said not only the retailers at the field days reaped benefits, but also those in Gore.
Mrs Macleod said field days attendees were positive.
The council’s role was to promote economic and social growth.
The ethos of working together as a whole district was also high on the list of priorities, she said.
First Retail Group client services manager Lorraine Nicholson, who also attended the event for the first time, said it was outstanding.
“It’s good just to see the engagement,” she said.