Project Re:START helped 27 retailers open the doors of their shipping container businesses in Cashel Mall, Christchurch in October 2011. The devastating February 2011 earthquake and subsequent after shocks made much of the inner city a no go zone, but the opening of the shipping container shopping centre has returned retail to the city centre. We weren’t sure what to expect but what we found was a colourful jigsaw of containers divided into two shopping precincts with foot paths, bench seating and gardens.
The container shopping centre is temporary, however we’re impressed with the design and layout and it provides a modern, safe and practical solution to returning retail to the inner city. The containers were initially scheduled to be removed in April 2012. Update Re-START is still in place late 2015 although some container shops have been moved and new permanent stores have been incorporated into the complex.
Hummingbird Coffee and Crafted Coffee Company are two cafes in containers and they both have outdoor as well as balcony seating. I recommend the scones at Hummingbird – sit upstairs and share the view with the birds in the tree.
Clothing stores include Ruby, Storm and 3 Wise Men; shoes to match may be found at Minnie Cooper and Maher Shoes.
Johnson’s Grocery celebrated 100 years of trading in 2011 and secured the continuation of the business by moving to a container in Cashel Mall. It was good to see the old Johnson’s delivery bike in the window, and shelves full of treats from around the world, albeit shelves not as chock-a-block as those in the former Colombo Street premises.
Vendors at the outdoor food court include Dose Sushi, Dimitris Souvlaki, Berry Healthy Ice Cream and Caffeine Laboratory. Buskers often provide entertainment, and if you’re wondering about conveniences, you’ll find them in containers too.
Ballantynes Department Store has been in Christchurch for over 150 years and is part of Cashel Mall Re:START. The doors of their permanent store reopened after work was completed to ensure the building complied 100% with the building code. Other retailers in containers include Simply New Zealand, Scorpio Books and Toi Toi design store, leaving plenty more for you to find if you get the chance.
Our Christchurch on $10 or more guide has suggestions for other things to see and do in the city and surrounds.
My favourite Christchurch website: