Plume finds new Christchurch home

Making it work . . . Margi and Chris Robertson, of fashion label Nom*D and Plume clothing stores,...
Making it work . . . Margi and Chris Robertson, of fashion label Nom*D and Plume clothing stores, look over floor plans for their potential new Christchurch store, in Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Linda Robertson
He may be close to signing a lease for a new Christchurch store, but Plume director Chris Robertson is mourning the frustrating potential loss of the original shop's "iconic" fittings and location.

Plume, owned by Mr Robertson and his wife Nom*D designer Margi, has been in Christchurch since 1992, and its High St location since 2008.

Along with many other high-end fashion stores, Plume survived the September earthquake but suffered "major damage" during February's 6.3 aftershock.

There was no major internal damage or stock or plant loss, but "it was a horrible mess" with windows blown out and many items shaken over, Mr Robertson said.

As the CBD went into lock-down he travelled to Christchurch three times "to try and talk our way in" but quickly learned that locals were able to get faster action.

In April, he and others in business in the High St area boarded a bus and were told they had one wheelie bin and one hour to get what they wanted from their premises.

One hour and 45 minutes, six wheelie bins and 14 garden bags later, he managed to grab a hard-drive and some of the "more serious, imported and current stock off the racks".

The rest of the stock was written off, but he was most concerned about the custom-made fittings which remained in the shell of a building.

The metal shelves and racks, the same as those in the Dunedin store, were "burnt orange now" as they had been exposed to the elements for five months.

Other "beautiful", "irreplaceable", "iconic Plume things" such as antique light fittings and a curved counter from Stewart Dawson's remain as they were.

Every time the company gets close to retrieving those items "another shake happens", he said.

As he struggles to get inside the building, he recently saw "sure signs of looting" with the building's back door wide open.

The entire process had been "extremely frustrating", but Plume was "on the brink" of having a new home in Papanui Rd, Merivale.

After looking at "virtually all the options in Christchurch" they decided on an "in your face", small, modern building which needed "some oomph" to make it "more Plume".

"We are prepared to change the entire shop front and facades. I could see it being October by the time we open."

With stock waiting to be sold and staff waiting to return to full-time work, all that stood in the way now was one last "stick in the mud" - a report saying the building was not earthquake prone.

Mr Robertson feared the impact the earthquake would have on insurance premiums, tipping them to increase 30%, and the effect they would have, along with rent increases, on the sale price of stock.

"But you've just got to bite the bullet."

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