The concept of a Mainstreet organisation for Whanganui was first discussed in the late 1980s. To say that Whanganui’s City Centre back then was tired and moribund would be painting a rosy picture. Whanganui was about to get a new shopping mall adjacent to the main retail street. At the same time, there had been business creep from the main shopping district to newer and more advantageously rated areas of the city. With a static population the city centre was losing out.
The first step for Whanganui’s Mainstreet movement was to recognise that if something was not done, the Central Avenue district would decline and eventually die. Mainstreet Whanganui arose with support from the Retailers Association. Council was to spend money to refurbish and upgrade the main shopping precinct and retailers wanted to be involved. The result was what was then and remains one of the best central city upgrades in the Country.
Mainstreet Whanganui may have begun as a lobby group but today it is a thriving organisation that, while continuing to lobby on behalf of retailers, has grown to encompass promotional activity, events, central city maintenance, gardens and ongoing beautification projects. Meanwhile continuing to ensure that Whanganui’s central city remains on of the most admired in New Zealand.