Opinion: Small business is our business by Mark Knoff-Thomas

When I wrote for last month’s opinion piece I really thought we’d be well and truly out and about and back to relative “normality” by now. However, we’re on the precipice of Delta ramping up and spreading far and wide. It really is an insidious virus. It’s very unforgiving if safety protocols aren’t adhered to, which frustratingly seems to be the reason the COVID flames are being fanned.

We are desperate to get our businesses back to normal. As a business association we have around 3,000 members. Our members fall into two categories: property owners and tenants. Roughly a third of our non-property-owner membership comes from retail, about 10% from hospitality, smaller percentages for the medical, health/well- being, beauty and fitness sectors, and a huge chunk of 50-odd percent of commercial and corporate businesses. According to MBIE’s website “there are approximately 530,000 small businesses in New Zealand representing 97% of all firms. They account for 28 per cent of employment and contribute over a quarter of New Zealand’s gross domestic product.” To add to that small businesses employ over 600,000 people. So over the course of our careers, most of us will spend time either working in a small business, or owning one. They really are the engine room that plays a key role in supporting the economy – and right now many of them are in a rather perilous state.

There are a multitude of small Newmarket businesses that make up our ecosytem and give us our fabulous point of difference as New Zealand’s retail powerhouse. On the cover of this month’s magazine we feature Michael and Kay from Michael Holmes Premium Eyewear. They have recently celebrated 20 years in business – which is no mean feat. They have ridden the economic peaks and troughs and despite the ups and downs have become a destination, and have created a brand reknowned for excellence, exceptional customer service, and a business operation that is strong. They have a loyal following and have been winners of numerous categories at the Newmarket Business Awards more times than I can remember. Collectively all of our small business champions excel at what they do, they know exactly what their customers want, and consistently deliver. Our best small businesses carve out their own niches and become the go-to places. They are the life blood of our community. Every cafe, every retail store, every pilates studio, restaurant, every gallery, makeup store…

Some small businesses choose to stay that way, others go on to become huge (one day I will tell you the story when I worked as an English teacher in La Coruña, Spain in the early 90’s, and used to buy my t-shirts from a small boutique called Zara…)

Since this lockdown began back in August, Newmarket is down around $15 million dollars a week, every week. That is money that is not circulating in the economy – the knock on effects of that are starting to be felt along the supply chain. So I have a request, a request to support small businesses, more than ever – whatever you need – please have this thought top of mind. Our businesses will appreciate it and you will literally be helping the economy.

Finally, please remember…the 3 things we cando to help Newmarket, Auckland and the country get back on track are: 1) wear a mask whenever you leave your home; 2) scan/ sign in everywhere you go; 3) make sure you get vaccinated (although, in actual fact vaccination rates around these parts are pretty high – so well done on that!)

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top