A new pop-up retail business run by Newcastle City Council is offering a central location for visitor services in Honeysuckle during the city's peak tourism and event season.
Located in the former café space within Newcastle Museum, The Newcastle Shop is a place for visitors to find out where to go in Newcastle, buy a souvenir or have a cup of coffee, and sit comfortably while using free Wi-Fi to research things to do in Newcastle and the surrounding region. Sprocket Roasters, Newcastle's innovative, carbon conscious and award-winning coffee, is a fitting feature of the new shop.
Now open, the shop will continue to operate through to 31 March 2018 in order to provide visitor services throughout the busy summer season.
"With the expected 150,000 visitors for Supercars and the growing investment in Newcastle as a major events city, Council recognised the need to better support inbound visitors with improved visitor services, information and event activation hubs," said Council's interim CEO Jeremy Bath.
"Feedback from the tourism industry is that visitor services have been under supported and there is also no centralised retail store specialising in Newcastle souvenirs and local product," he continued. "Newcastle Museum is by default one of the main sites for visitor information in the city, so it was a natural choice for The Newcastle Shop's location."
In addition to supporting tourism and event promotion, The Newcastle Shop is also serving as the head office for the NEW Crew volunteers, the city's team of specialist visitor guides who promote Newcastle as a leading tourist destination. The strategy is for the shop to enable Council to better capitalise on events, maximise the visitor experience, and promote return visitation.
"Council's research has identified that there are 360,000 visitors who travel to Newcastle for events annually and 1.3 million people visit the region for the purposes of visiting friends and relatives," said Bath. "For this reason, The Newcastle Shop is targeted to both the local and inbound visitor market."
The five-month trial period for The Newcastle Shop will provide data upon which a decision can be made as to whether to make the concept a permanent part of the Museum. Feature events that will be supported during the trial period include This/That Live at the Foreshore, Celebration of Cricket, Formula Powerboats, Surfest and the Australian Boardriders Battle.
The shop also supports visitors to the Newcastle Museum's major summer exhibitions Dinosaur rEvolution
and Spiders Alive & Deadly
, and cruise ship visits from December through March.
The Newcastle Shop offers locally themed merchandise, stocking retail products that are either about Newcastle or crafted by Newcastle makers. The Newcastle Museum shop has relocated into the space and expanded to stock Newcastle branded products, souvenirs, and exhibition and event merchandise.
Council's Cultural Director Liz Burcham said The Newcastle Shop provides a unique opportunity to deliver additional tourism and cultural outcomes for the city.
"We see this use of the space as extending Newcastle Museum's offering and connectivity with the community and visitors," said Burcham. "It also allows us to showcase exhibitions and activities at the Museum and Newcastle Art Gallery and to include the products of local artists and artisans in the shop's product range."
Trading hours for The Newcastle Shop are 8am to 5pm 7 days a week, including public holidays, with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.