165-year-old Ballantynes opens new extension
by H. Naomi March
Three years ago, the temporary replacement for an old section of Ballantynes store was removed, and on Friday, 18 October, 2019 – after a traditional Māori blessing – the long-awaited replacement was opened to the public. Ballantynes was first opened in 1854, and has been supplying the people of Christchurch, Canterbury, then New Zealand-wide, with both top quality service and goods.
The added good news is, if you, or your friends, or family, shop in-store within 30 days of departing New Zealand by plane or ship, you receive Overseas Travel Discount – thus saving the GST value off the retail price of all full price items at Ballantynes – check with the store for details.
Time for my disclaimer – I’ve been a store-card holder for almost 50 years – the first person under 21 years of age to be issued with one, on request. The staff my mother and I visit almost weekly, feel more like friends than shop assistants – and they treat every customer with kindness and courtesy – if a certain outfit doesn’t suit one of us, the staff member will honestly, and tactfully, point out its “shortcomings.” We trust them, because they will not force a sale on us – customer care based on integrity – and we value that. Therefore, my report may sound somewhat biased, and it will certainly sound personal, but I have not been remunerated for writing it.
In the Re:START “Cashel Mall on a walk around Christchurch, NZ, November 24, 2013.
After the earthquakes that closed the City centre, the Ballantynes’ family fought along with others to save our Mall, and to have our central City saved as a destination and shopping centre. The history of their success is well documented in words and particularly photographs – starting with the globally famous Re:START shipping-container-shops in The Mall, attracting shoppers and tourists alike, including comment in “Lonely Planet.”
Now, nine years post-quake, we have our whole Ballantyne’s store back! It is beautiful and very modern, in keeping with the City’s other new buildings. It also reflects international stores of equal standard, with spacious displays. The first impression is, “wow – the light” – beautiful daylight shines through floor to high-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows at the Litchfield Street end, with the grand staircase elegantly blending in, rather than dominating.
The experience was not like a trip down memory lane – coming home to Grandma’s house – but more like meeting new family members for the first time, liking what we see, and looking forward to getting to know them more, over time. That family-feel – that sense of belonging – is no accident, nor is it contrived. The Ballantynes’ family has provided high-end goods and services to their fellow citizens for 165 years, and continues to provide them in the new build.
The name of the new Ground Floor Café, Deli, Wine bar, is “Kin” – just the place to meet with close family and friends. Open and light, with an atrium above the internal entrance from the Lichfield Street Car Park entrance letting in more natural light – the seated service offers a chef’s menu, while the glass cabinets Deli menu continues the numbered seating service, or take away, if you’re in a hurry. The only thing currently missing in the wine bar is the offer of alcohol-removed wine – important in society, let alone a work-lunch setting. Academy Award-winning actress, Anne Hathaway is not the only person who has sworn off alcohol, and a variety of people have a variety of reasons – surely hospitality includes special needs other than GF. At least the famous British distilled non-alcoholic cocktails are offered on the menu, and on the Pantry shelves.
Leading up to Christmas, special shopping nights and specialty classes – some with prizes attached – are planned. Ballantynes has created quite a different, fun-filled, practical, exquisite shopping experience – if you don’t have to shop online.
For my nearly-90-year-old Mother and me, seeing Ballantynes fully restored again, has provided us with more to explore during our trips to town. There’s also the sense of life continuing – a phoenix-like example that recovering from setbacks – no matter how painful or destructive – is doable. We enjoyed seeing familiar faces in unfamiliar surrounds. We also enjoyed the new furnishings department, with the fashionable return to colour in the home – displayed throughout the upstairs like an artist’s palette.
My congratulations to Ballantynes! Even in this “settling in” period, their store’s new section has a unique ambiance, and is a quiet, peaceful place to browse and shop – a great addition to the existing store. As long as the tradition of training new staff members includes treating customers with the high quality care offered older relatives – Granny, or favourite aunt or uncle – mingled with their high quality products, the legacy of the Ballantynes’ family-feel will continue indefinitely.
Photo from www.ballantynes.co.nz/our-stores