Crafty consumers risk being left with bare bobbins, if Oamaru’s Enhance closes its doors.
Owner Val Hill, who had been told by family and friends it was time to retire, had had the Thames St shop on the market for about three months, she said.
‘‘I don’t want to close it, but I’m not going to stay here forever.’’
Mrs Hill had been running Enhance since 2007, first as part of a partnership, then on her own for the past 10 years.
The shop was the only place in town where you could buy buttons, she said.
It also stocked patterns and supplies for crafts such as knitting, crochet, and embroidery, along with a selection of haberdashery.
The business was a natural fit for Mrs Hill, who always had a strong affinity for all things crafting and was a long-time member of the North Otago Embroiderer’s Guild.
‘‘It’s a nice product to sell. I couldn’t sell gumboots, for instance.
‘‘Ever since I was little, I was taught to crochet, to knit, to sew — all of those things. It’s something I’ve grown up with, I suppose.”
She described the business as ‘‘tactile’’, which made her reluctant to take it online. Colours looked different on every computer, and people could not touch what they were buying.
‘‘The internet doesn’t have a physical connection.’’
It also lacked the one-on-one interaction and advice Mrs Hill could offer her in-store clientele.
‘‘Also, how do you buy a metre of ribbon online, and what’s the point?’’
She did think whoever bought the business would probably take it online, however.
‘‘But I mean, we have people come into the shop, saying they bought something on the internet, they don’t understand it, it isn’t what they wanted . . .So, that’s a catch-22 really.’’
While Covid-19 lockdowns appeared to have created somewhat of a crafting renaissance, Enhance had not reaped the rewards. Customers were mostly older, and reluctant to get out and go shopping.
While the business had not struggled, it ‘‘certainly isn’t as good as it could be’’.
Shopping locally meant customers received a personalised service, and shop staff were often willing to go the extra mile.
‘‘I was taught that when I first started in retail, when I was 13, my boss at the time always enforced that if we didn’t know an answer, a) we asked or b) we found somebody else that could help us — or direct the person,’’ Mrs Hill said.
She seldom shopped out of town.
‘‘I buy locally. If I can’t buy locally, I ask.’’
If people did not use Enhance, it would be another store lost to the main street, she said.
‘‘So then there’s nowhere to buy even a reel of cotton, or a button.
‘‘That’s one of the reasons why I really don’t want to close the business, because I feel a loyalty to the North Otago public. Over the years they’ve been good to me.’’