In the wake of the recent COVID-19 outbreak New Zealanders have begun to realise the value of supporting local businesses. The team at Taupō gift store Spacecraft have welcomed this renewed focus on New Zealand made. “Since we first opened the store in 2015 we’ve worked hard to source quality products that are good for the planet” says Jo Allen, joint-owner of Spacecraft. “We like to stock products that have a story to tell. For example, our winter hats are from a social enterprise that gives a hat to a kiwi in need for each hat sold. Many of these hats are donated to organisations right here in Taupō, including Taupō Women’s Refuge. We also have a sustainability policy and offset our carbon emissions” says Jo. Jo and her business partner Sue Shaw have been collaborating with a number of Taupō business over the COVID-19 lockdown, finding ways to support the local community and economy. “Just before we moved to Alert Level Four we worked with Taupō Pak N Save to add a stand of kids toys and educational games at the checkouts” says Sue. “We knew parents would need ways to keep their children occupied over lockdown, and wouldn’t have access to many of the usual retail options.” The idea was a hit, and the toys and games sold out in just a few weeks. Once New Zealand moved down to Level Three and local cafés began to operate, Jo and Sue connected with their neighbours the Cozy Corner Café. “One thing we know to be true is that everything is better with coffee” says Jo. “We decided to offer customers the option of purchasing a coffee with their order. We delivered the coffees direct to their door along with their Spacecraft products.”
Spacecraft’s primary customer base is in Taupō, however they have received a number of orders from out-of-town customers. “There are many families who have been separated by distance due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This was particularly hard over Mother’s Day - most of our Taupō residents couldn’t have visitors due to the travel restrictions and health risks. We don’t normally do deliveries, but decided to make Mothers Day special and deliver on Sunday morning” says Jo. They were inundated with orders for their Mother’s Day promotions, which included options of breakfast in bed or a fresh bunch of flowers. Although there have been some real successes for Spacecraft over the lockdown period, it has been hard work to keep the revenue flowing. “We’ve tried to focus on things that will help our customers during this time” says Sue. “Even though we’re now at Alert Level Two, there may be a lot of customers that are still not able to come to the store. It’s about being sensitive to how people are feeling, and offering products and services in a way that keeps them safe” says Sue. During quieter times the Spacecraft team have also been taking time to up-skill. “The support from the government has been so important to us. The wage subsidy, the practical advice, and the small business funding. We’ve been working on our social media content and updating our website, trying to imagine what our online shopping experience could look like in the future. It’s about being innovative and flexible, and really listening to the needs of our customers” says Sue.