With the Mahurangi Winter Festival of Lights (July 10-25) and the 51st Kowhai Festival (October 16-30) approaching, the question for savvy businesses is this: Are you ready to take advantage of an influx of locals and out-of-towners visiting Warkworth and the Mahurangi area?
When the Winter Festival was run in 2019, an estimated 6000 people were in Baxter Street for the light show, with a number of those coming especially for the event and staying in the area for a few days. And it is no fluke that the timing of the festival coincided with the school holidays, where we see winter migration of families with young kids to new places. It is the same again this year. The Kowhai Festival will be scaled back a little this year, but being held on a Saturday at the start of spring, it will undoubtedly create increased foot traffic on a normal Saturday’s trading.
Businesses in the region, especially Warkworth where the light show is being held, are encouraged to light up their premises during the Winter Festival. Last time, about 85 per cent of CBD businesses did. The town looked amazing and attracted lots of families.
These were all prospective customers who browsed shop windows and admired business frontages. I overheard many conversations as families walked the town with children commenting, “oh, good shop” for the ones that were lit up, or “bad shop” for the ones that weren’t.
We are also encouraging businesses in the industrial area to light up – what better way for the community, especially new residents, to find out about all the businesses on our doorstep? Thanks to Mitre 10, there is a $500 voucher for the best lights display, so it is worth having some fun and using your imagination to build customer loyalty and attract new customers.
This year, the Kowhai Festival Huge Day Out will be held on October 16 along the wharf, Kapanui and Wharf streets. Queen and Baxter Streets will remain open. Here is a great opportunity for retailers to put some effort into attracting customers who will be in the area for festivities. A market day vibe would be easy to achieve if shops put stalls out the front, promoted in-store specials, or offered other incentives to generate footfall and make sales.
I urge you to take advantage of the large numbers of people these signature events bring to our area.
Murray Chapman, One Mahurangi Manager