A lifestyle change, a bit of downsizing and less traffic to contend with are the key reasons why Tim Green is closing the doors of Orewa Menswear and moving to Ruakaka.
Although another menswear store will open in its place, there is no doubt that this is the end of an era. There has been an Orewa Menswear store in the town since the early 1960s. It was started by the Johnsons to serve the surrounding rural community, changed hands a couple of times and Tim’s father Cliff bought it from the Bradleys in 1976. Tim worked there after school, eventually taking over ownership.
He will hand the keys to new owners Berlin Clothing at the end of October and the store will gain a new name, Berlin Clothing for Men.
Tim says menswear shops used to sell everything from pajamas, socks and underwear to hats, suits and ties but over the years specialisation became essential to staying in business.
“There is huge competition from large companies like The Warehouse and Farmers, as well as online,” Tim says. “We can’t buy things like underwear and socks for the prices they sell them at. So when I took over Orewa Menswear I looked for the kind of quality brands that those stores don’t stock.”
He says personal service, listening to customers and knowing the kinds of items they are looking for is what sets small businesses like his apart. “We’ve got a lot of loyal customers – some have been with us since Dad’s day and have come in quite upset that we’re leaving.”
He says the reason that menswear stores are not as ubiquitous as those that sell women’s fashion is that “women love shopping”.
“If it wasn’t for ladies, we wouldn’t be in business! They are the chief buyers of men’s clothes.”
Although he admits that losing the deal to supply Orewa College’s uniforms in 2014, after doing so for around 30 years, was a big blow, Tim says that the business adapted and moved on. It also survived global downturns, increasingly high rents and lack of parking for customers.
Orewa Menswear was a true “mum and dad” business, with Tim’s wife Robyn playing a key role, including taking care of the books. Store manager, Janice Sapsworth, has been there since Tim took over 14 years ago and will continue to manage the store for Berlin Clothing.
Tim says that none of the couple’s four children are interested in taking over the store, so he elected to sell up and purchase a menswear business in Whangarei. In doing so, Tim and Robyn will live closer to family and enjoy a more relaxed life – although he will not be retiring “any time soon”.
He says they have loved living in Orewa, where he and Robyn were involved with the surf club since they were in their teens, and were also part of the local business association Destination Orewa Beach for more than 10 years.
“You don’t make a million dollars out of this kind of business, but it’s a way of life,” Tim says. “I still really enjoy the customer contact.”
Orewa Menswear will close on October 28.