Opinion: Autumn, the season of change

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I’m a die-hard summer fan, but I have to admit autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year. The light in the sky, the spectrum of colours of the leaves in the trees, that slowly descend to restart the cycle of living. It’s quite fantastic. Some of the colours you see, whilst taking the dog out in the morning for example, almost look fake, they are so vibrant. And even now, in my 5th decade I still get a kick out of walking through piles of crunchy leaves.

Autumn symbolises a change. An ending, and the pathway to new beginnings. I think the season quite nicely connects with where we are at mentally and emotionally on the COVID rollercoaster. We have seen significant numbers of people catch COVID or who have had to isolate because of being close contacts. We have become familiar with the tickling of the cottonwool-wrapped-probe that we have had to shove up each nostril when doing RAT tests. Then infected numbers started to drop off like autumn leaves.

The past month or so of trade has been some of the toughest since early 2020. We have had to say goodbye to more businesses as they could no longer keep it viable. Even a couple of Newmarket’s icons. With a long and colourful history in Newmarket, Route 66 will be shutting its doors on 27th March. Founded by retail pioneer, Kevyn Male who started off in Newmarket in 1967 with a womenswear store - Three Bears (one of the original stuffed bears can be found at Swashbucklers Restaurant down on Westhaven Drive...). It quickly became known for its sense of fun, events and stunts.

He opened another business in 1988 - The Ultimate Jean Store Route 66. Many a pair of 501’s flew out the door in those early days (those innocent days when 501s just meant jeans!). Much of the original imagery used in-store featured cars, roads,deserts, petrol pumps and nostalgic American icons. Todd Male eventually took over the reins from his dad and successfully continued the unique style of retail for which Route 66 has always been known and loved. Todd added his own style and personality to running the business and developed a cult-like following.

And the purveyors of much sartorial sophistication, Suits on Broadway, is calling it a day. The store was established in 1992 by Peter Jacobsen, and then for the past 18 years owned by David Eggleton. Many men across Auckland, and the country will have been advised and dressed here. One of those rare shops you can go to for hard-to-find things for formal wear. (I admit to sheepishly asking for help to re-tie my bowtie - a skill I have never successfully mastered). David and his team have always provided top notch customer service. COVID has however drastically reduced our need for suits, and formal event wear.

If there was a Newmarket Business Hall of Fame, both Todd and David would be in it.

That’s the crushing thing about all that has happened over the past two years. COVID has ravaged some businesses so much. Trade downturns, staff shortages, margins squeezed, lockdowns, supply chain issues, access to credit, consumer fear – the list goes on. So many good people, who have put their heart and soul into building brands or experiences, have had to let them go. But as we know, after autumn, and winter, we get spring, new growth, new life, new beginnings.

Your support of our businesses is always appreciated.

See you here soon,

Mark Knoff-Thomas
CEO, Newmarket Business Association