The end of an Arrowtown era

Wallace & Gibbs group directors Bruce Gibbs, centre, and Delvine Wallace, right, with daughters,...
Wallace & Gibbs group directors Bruce Gibbs, centre, and Delvine Wallace, right, with daughters, from left, Sophie Gibbs, Elizabeth Wallace-Gibbs and Caroline Walak. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Two iconic Arrowtown businesses will close in coming months, in part due to the ongoing "Covid-19 hangover".

Wallace & Gibbs group, founded by Delvine Wallace and Bruce Gibbs, will close Buckingham St’s IKON and Wallace & Gibbs by mid-year.

Wallace says the decision comes with mixed emotions, but "it feels like the right time".

Wallace & Gibbs opened in 1994, while IKON has been trading for the past 18 years, with daughters Sophie Gibbs, Caroline Walak and Elizabeth Wallace-Gibbs growing up in the businesses.

The couple had already owned The Woolpress, and Wallace had a vision to bring upmarket women’s fashion to Arrowtown when Wallace & Gibbs opened.

"Initially it was hard yards, but eventually we developed fantastic relationships with our key suppliers, and the store blossomed."

IKON followed in 2006, and rode the wave of growing demand for high-end European, Australian and Kiwi designer labels and denim.

Wallace says both stores have had huge support from their large clientele, particularly during Covid.

"The girls have all worked in the businesses, learning the ropes from the shop floor to executive management level, and they will continue to do so in the future.

"Although the businesses remain profitable, the ongoing hangover from Covid-19, with supply chain and staff recruitment issues, increased business costs, significant changes to shoppers’ habits, and online shopping pressure, is a sign of the time.

"With both store leases up this July, we saw it as opportune to close that chapter and put renewed energy and vigour into our other tourism and fashion enterprises."

The stores will host rolling closing down sales from tomorrow till the end of June, giving the group time to transition out of both stores by the end of July, though they’ll look to re-establish some key brands in their remaining stores — The Woolpress and GOALS in Arrowtown and Te Huia in Arrowtown and Queenstown — as they consolidate the business and strengthen their online presence.

Walak says while it does feel like the end of an era, and it’ll be a tough goodbye, "we are very grateful for what we have accomplished and celebrate what has been an exciting journey together".

"Getting to open our own luxury sports and lifestyle store, GOALS, in 2016 was a significant highlight.

"Sophie and I are very much looking forward to having more time to focus on this store going forward while continuing to support Bruce and Delvine with the rest of the business."