Blenheim residents besotted with retail giant Kmart have called in vain for a store to be set up in the town for years, sparking rumours that have gone all the way to Work and Income NZ.
The retailer has repeatedly quashed rumours it might be opening a store, but statements saying they are always looking for new sites have left a glimmer of hope.
Fans seized on the latest theory that Work and Income was telling jobseekers a store might be opening in Blenheim after people posted about it on a popular Marlborough Facebook group.
But, like so many other ‘Kmart-is-coming’ rumours, it collapsed under closer investigation.
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Blenheim Work and Income manager Robin Mortimer said in a statement that their work search seminars encouraged people to look for jobs that were currently available.
“These may include jobs available in the top of the South and Kmart does have a store in Nelson,” she said.
“There has been a lot of speculation in the media about Kmart coming to Blenheim; if they open a store here, we will certainly promote these jobs to our clients.”
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A Kmart spokeswoman also downplayed the rumours, saying they had nothing further to add to their last statement in February. But Kmart loyalists in Blenheim remain hopeful.
Blenheim woman Linda van Kuyk, who set up the Facebook page ‘Bring KMART to Blenheim’, said it was difficult to say why people in the town loved the store so much.
For many people making the 90-minute drive to Nelson, heading to the Richmond Kmart store, was often No 1 on their list of things to do, she said.
“I can’t explain it, you just get sucked into the Kmart vortex.”
Van Kuyk said rumours had been swirling for years about Kmart setting up shop in Blenheim. One of the most credible sites was the Westwood Business Park, on the edge of town.
The park had lots of space, and the promise it seemed to hold led to van Kuyk setting up the ‘Bring KMART to Blenheim’ page, following the example set by a similar Nelson initiative.
In 2015, the Australian company outright denied it was coming to Marlborough. The Westwood developers also poured cold water on the rumours, leading to some disappointment.
“That initial quashing from Kmart was a bit of a drag, but I think people are still hopeful, they want to let Kmart know there’s demand for them here in Blenheim,” van Kuyk said.
“But people say stuff all the time, so until we actually see that Kmart sign on the building it probably won’t seem real,” she said.
Until then, van Kuyk said the same cycle would probably keep repeating: someone would start a rumour, people would get excited, the media would report it, and Kmart would deny it.
“It’ll just keep going around and around,” she said.