Overseas visitors are flocking to what might seem to be an unlikely tourist attraction – the Gore Hospice Shop.
Buses have been pulling up at the shop door and tourists flooding in seeking bargains.
The influx of tourists, which comes as the main tourist season tails off, has been a boon for the store, profits from which support Hospice Southland services.
Stop manager Sue Neiman said the organisation’s other three Southland stores, in Queenstown, Invercargill and Winton, had also become very busy.
The Gore store was busy all the time, Mrs Neiman said.
“One tour guide brings his bus [of tourists] here once every three weeks.”
Other tourist buses passing through the town also visited.
It was not unusual for two buses to visit the store in one day, she said.
The tourists spent 15 to 20 minutes in the store before leaving for their next destination, Mrs Neiman said.
“And it’s bedlam,” she said.
Not just buses of tourists visited the store; residents from throughout the region were also flocking to bag a bargain, Mrs Neiman said.
“There is one girl who doesn’t live in Gore, but she comes to shop when she visits. It’s her favourite shop.”
A customer from Auckland also visited the shop recently and a family came from Wallacetown to shop, she said.
A group of women from Mosgiel, who came by bus, were also regular visitors.
The outlet also attracted people from outside the district who enjoyed “op-shopping”.
Others bought goods from the store and onsold them online, Mrs Neiman said.
The shop was also popular with Gore district residents.
“It’s a sign of the times – it’s hard for a lot of people.”
The outlet accepted donations of a wide variety of good-quality items, she said.
People visited the store not only to shop but also to have a chat with volunteers, so the outlet also served a social purpose, Mrs Neiman said.
“They come in for a look and a chat.”
The shop had 35 volunteers, who worked shifts that suited their other commitments.
Some volunteers were “busy people” as they also volunteered for other organisations or had part-time work.
The volunteers were lively, vibrant people, she said.
“Everybody works very hard.”
The motto “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” was an apt way to describe the volunteers’ attitude, Mrs Neiman said.