Wilkinsons’ resort legacy recognised

From left, Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sharon Fifield, chamber life...
From left, Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sharon Fifield, chamber life members Kim and Marie Wilkinson and chamber chair Angela Spackman. PHOTO: TRACEY ROXBURGH
The Queenstown Business Chamber of Commerce welcomed two new life members last week.

At its AGM, at Coronet Peak, Kim and Marie Wilkinson were honoured for their contributions to Queenstown, and the chamber, over the past 40 years.

Described by chamber chair Angela Spackman as the "town’s pill-pushers, drug lords and drug dispensers", through Wilkinsons Pharmacy, which they sold in 2016, the couple had been part of an almost 100-year business legacy in Queenstown.

Kim’s grandfather, Gordon, purchased the building that became Wilkinsons Pharmacy in 1920, while his father, Stan, owned and ran the pharmacy for 34 years.

Kim and Marie took it over in 1984, before GST was introduced, when the resident population numbered 6000 and the minimum wage was $2.50.

With tourism booming and businesses thriving, Kim was a founding board member of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, in the early ’90s, along with Jack Enright, lawyer Alan Macalister, Mountain Scene’s Frank Marvin, Mary Garvie, who had Wicked Willies pub, and geologist and retailer Bruce Riddell.

Kim spent six years on the chamber board, while also managing a thriving business — by 1999 the couple purchased a book and toy store, which they relocated to O’Connells Shopping Centre and rebranded to Toy World, and the ‘chocolate cottage’ on Camp St.

Following the 1999 floods, they paddled a boat through the pharmacy to access the dispensary, which they relocated to higher ground to continue to serve the region.

The fully refitted and expanded pharmacy was completed in 2000, after which the couple created the Remarkables Park and Five Mile pharmacies, which they subsequently sold to younger pharmacists they’d mentored.

Since selling Wilkinsons, Marie has volunteered at the Citizens Advice Bureau and is administrator for the Queenstown Hill Predator Control Group.

Kim is now in his eighth year on the Queenstown Golf Club board, is a Lakes District Hospital Foundation trustee — instrumental in establishing the whanau room at the hospital — and is financial conveyor for the Presbyterian church.

Noting their contribution to their 250 staff over the years, the countless customers, the district and chamber community was "truly unique", Spackman said their legacy was "based on the backbone of teamwork, and complementing each other’s strengths".

Kim says the couple "appreciate being honoured in this way" by a chamber which has, from its humble, voluntary beginnings gone on to become "one of, if not the most, successful chambers in the country".