BY ALEC SMART
Tek’s Gifts and Things, a discount variety store within the Marrickville Metro shopping centre, is set to close its doors on 29 December after 22 years. The store is reluctant to leave; the situation has arisen after discussions between the Metro management, AMP Capital, and Tek’s failed to reach a compromise over the store’s future in the shopping mall.
Tek’s revealed they will have to close completely as there are no other premises in the vicinity suitable in which to relocate. An online petition at Change.org to extend Tek’s lease, supported by the store’s regular users, is rapidly approaching 1000 signatures. The petition states: “TEKS are a long standing tenant and service everyone in the community by selling affordable household goods and amazing Halloween outfits and things that we parents need for our last minute school projects!
We are happy to see the retail offer expand with the new building and additional great fashion stores and food outlets, but we also need the loyal stores and their bargain offers.”
Tek’s customers, who have been posting complaints on Facebook and social media, believe the eviction is a result of creeping gentrification. Talk is that the Metro, currently undergoing upgrade and expansion works, is moving in the direction of a Westfield Plaza-type shopping complex, which favours large chain stores and boutiques over small budget-oriented independent traders like Tek’s.
On 29 January 2019, AMP announced the commencement of Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre’s $142 million development.
“Once completed, Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre will be expanded from 22,000 square metres to 33,000 square metres, and will host an additional 44 new retailers including Coles, as well as a fresh food precinct and indoor and al fresco dining options.
The development is designed to celebrate the food and art culture of Sydney’s Inner West and reflect the industrial heritage of the area. It will also enhance the existing retail, leisure, dining and fresh food offerings.”
Tek’s owner-manager, Tek, told City Hub “Tek’s is a discount store. It was never designed to make anyone rich, we’re more of a community service… We’ve always employed locally. Some of my former employees’ kids now work and shop here.
“I lease a 600sqm space. Metro offered me the 200sqm space so they could lease out the 400sqm alongside to a toy store, but they wanted to charge me $9,500 a week, much more than I’ve ever paid. I offered $3,000, then I received an email saying ‘we won’t be able to come to an arrangement’. That was the end of the negotiations. If they wanted me to stay they would have talked more…
This isn’t the first time I was asked to leave. Two years ago Metro were planning to move the RTA [Service NSW] here to replace us, but two weeks before Xmas they then changed their mind and asked me to stay.”
No stay of execution likely
As to whether the Inner West Council can intervene for a stay-of-execution, independent councillor Pauline Lockie revealed on Facebook on 21 November: “Sadly this isn’t something Council can change… Feeling for the staff and management at Tek’s, which has been serving locals searching for pretty much every art, craft or household item you can think of at Marrickville Metro for 22 years…”
Marrickville Metro’s Centre Management team released an official statement:
“The Marrickville Metro team wish to advise Tek’s Gifts & Things will be closing their doors from 29 December 2019. While we had been in discussions for a long time seeking to keep Tek’s within the Centre, unfortunately we were unable to come to an agreement.
In line with customer feedback and the needs of our growing community, we will be introducing two exciting new stores to the existing Tek’s location.
Pop Avenue is a lifestyle variety store which will offer affordable homewares, craft supplies, costumes, seasonal items and unique gifts. An offering not dissimilar to Tek’s.
Toys and Tales is a multi-award winning toy store that has a handpicked selection of long-lasting, high-quality toys, activities and childhood classics.
We have enjoyed having Tekin, Morris and the wider Tek’s team as part of our centre, and are happy to announce that both stores have agreed to consider Tek’s staff for relevant job opportunities. In addition, we will be proactively speaking with other retailers and working with them to place any additional staff within roles in the Centre where possible.
We are excited to reveal our plans as we continue to unveil the evolution of Marrickville Metro and customers can follow our Facebook page for the latest…”