Bob Marley said 'Some people feel the rain, others just get wet' Since January this year, when we made a deliberate decision to 'feel the rain' we've had such an amazing adventure - in spite of whatever the weather has been up to.
Getting an opportunity to grow a business and help activate an otherwise underutilised part of the city made us feel pretty fortunate. And OK, like any small business owners there have been many days when we've relished being in control of our own destinies and other days when we've been rocking in the corner, sucking our thumbs crying for mummy. For the most part we know we are on the right path for us.
From the look of all of the engagement on a recent Facebook post we made re us closing for a short time (nearly 500 reactions, over 600 comments and around 60 shares) everyone agrees, Porirua's Harbours Edge site is a bloody great initiative. We thought it might be a good idea however, to just put a bit of a backstory around our rationale for closing up for a bit.
Perspective is everything right? There was a Stuff article published that we reckon made us sound a bit like whoosy whiney whingers. We really didn't even want to do the article in the first place but it sounded like they wanted to run a story regardless of whether or not we told things from our perspective so we thought we'd better have a yarn with them. As soon as they told us to look sad for the photo it dawned on us that we were probably meant to be playing a particular part for a good reader story. In reality, and looking at it with some perspective, there is no great angle to this story, nothing newsworthy to speak of really. We asked them to amend it or take it down but we think it's still out there somewhere.
It all started Thursday last week. The clamp guy came in and told me that from Saturday we (as in Simon and I) wouldn't be able to park outside the shop. I told Simon who looked like he was listening but evidently wasn't (which isn't unusual when I am talking to him while he is working on bikes) because on Saturday he parked up outside his workshop and low and behold - got clamped. There was an exchange of interesting dialogue between clampee and clamper and then Simon gave in and took up the clampers offer of a discount if he paid straight away - $150 was better than $400 and a tow.
Now the fact that there was actually no formal communication and also that there were other cars parked along the row directly outside Harbours Edge that didn't get clamped, made us a bit cross to say the least. So I rang the clamper to ask what the story was. I was then told that any persons parked in the carpark that entered our shop from Saturday (last Saturday) onwards would immediately be clamped if clampers were onsite. So I was like 'are you for real?' and he was like 'yes, for real'. I asked him if all of the Harbours Edge Pop-Up shop owners knew about this and he told me that I was meant to have told them (Oh OK, first I'd heard - I knew about telling Simon, but no one else). Then I asked why the other cars weren't being clamped that were also parked along the edge of the pop-up site and he hung up on me. So I just stood there with my jaw dropped for ages before I snapped out of it and thought through our options of which there were only 3, because people will naturally, as they have always done, park outside the shop even though there is a sign directing them to Semple Street. So, we could either
Carry on doing business and pretend not to know about the immediate clamping and just risk having our customers get clamped and have to fork out $$$ (and for the record - this was never really an option)
or, put a system in place whereby when we see people heading towards us we race out, tell them to get back in their car, head out to the roundabout, turn right, then right again at the second round-about, then right again in to the little carpark area near Pirates Cove then walk back to us - hmmmm maybe - bit of a negative experience for our customers though, or
Close (the café at least) until the problem is sorted and we can send out a consistent message to our customers about where to park.
So we went with option 3 and honestly didn't think it would be that big of a deal until the comments and feedback started coming through on our facebook page. People evidently are passionate about this pretty little part of the city and the clamping issues past and present.
Firstly, let's just all agree that the Harbours Edge Pop up site is a fabulous way to activate this lovely part of Porirua - to bring some good community vibes to an empty space. Porirua City Council you progressive thinking little beauty. I think we can also all agree, that sometimes good things don't always happen in the right order and if you wait to get every single duck in a row everybodies dead and nobody cares anymore and Elvis leaves the building without anybody noticing. So good on them for making this happen. And as far as securing parking for the site - it's been a work in progress - nothing is simple when it comes to multiple parties being involved.
So the clamping problem was always an issue in this parking area - never so much for us but for many of the tenants at the Harbourside site because their customers and staff were being clamped if they were parked even just a few minutes over the 90 minute time allowance. They were also getting clamped if they shopped at one of the tenant stores but then went across to use the toilets at Pataka or popped in to Crackerjack for a look after getting a treatment at Caci or buying some meat at Prestons. And this problem was going on long before the Harbours Edge Pop Up went in. One day we even witnessed a young girl in tears who had been at the gym and had obviously had a longer than 90 minute workout, another lady stopped to help and a physical altercation took place between the helper woman and the clamper. Not nice. Not necessary. We know the clampers have a job to do but come on - draw a line in the sand boys about whats acceptable behaviour and whats not.
OK - so that aside - the other issue was the inconsistent messages coming through. The clampers would only come every so often (it seemed to us that it was usually around times when the city would be at it's busiest with events etc going on) but you would never quite know when. Sometimes we would be told that it's OK for us to park outside our shop and other times we'd be told it wasn't and then later, Oh it's OK now - anyway confusing and inconsistent messages from the clampers - annoying and perplexing. Everyone hates a clamping but if there's going to be clamping going on, at least be consistent and upfront about when, where and what will trigger it.
As for us, we haven't been paying for parking and so we get that other tenants may get pissed off about that - for sure - no arguments there. We have always made it known that we are happy to pay for parking - no issue there either. Once the powers that be worked out what was fair - let us know, we just want to make it work. The issue was solely around the inconsistent messages coming through, the ambiguity around who's sending the clampers and why, and then, from our perspective, to be suddenly told that every person coming in to our shop from that day forward will be clamped immediately - these, for us, were the issues.
All we want is to make a living, inspire a love for cycling and the outdoors plus create some good vibes and service a space for some happy community times. This year has been a massive journey on every level - from Simon converting empty shipping containers into customer facing spaces, to me quitting a corporate job to run a café after never having been in the hospitality industry before in my life (honesty is the best policy) - it's certainly been a learning curve. But thanks to the foresight of PCC, the patience and loyalty of our regular customers from Prestons, NZ Uniforms, Nannies Plus, Caci Clinic, Cross Accounting, Pak'n'Save, Bluebell Club, The Colour Closet, Revive Massage, Capital Coast Health etc, who have stuck with us and supported us even on the darkest, wettest and coldest of days, we've survived our first winter.
Now this story does have a happy ending because we were notified today that our customers will no longer be immediately clamped for parking outside and coming in to our shop so long is the stay is no longer than 90 minutes. And unless you're hiring a bike (in which case we would definitely direct you to park on Semple Street) you're not going to get clamped. So just because I have 'Bob Marley Quotes' opened up on another tab, I'm going to quote him again because I saw one before that's fitting for us; 'love the life you live and live the life you love' now we can go on doing just that because being part of one of the beautiful developments taking place in Porirua right now is exactly where we want to be.