Peter Shearer Regent Arcade

In Conversation with Peter Shearer Menswear

What changes have you seen in Rundle Mall over the past four decades?

I remember when Rundle Mall was still Rundle Street, it was always packed full of cars, buses and pedestrians mid transit. Rundle Street was a main arterial road and it was common to see up to twenty busses along the street. We have seen iconic stores like John Martins and Cox Foys go, even the Myer building went and a new one was built.

What are some memorable anecdotes from your time as a trader in Rundle Mall?

I would get a $2 parking fine every day for parking my HR Holden right in front of Regent Arcade; I may have been fined a lot but I was never late for work! There was also only one fine for the day.

Early every morning workers would tow the old carts full of fruit and veg as well as fresh flowers down Rundle Street. You would often see the odd apple or orange falling from the cart and rolling down the street.

In your experience, what have been some of the standout moments for Rundle Mall over the years?

I remember when John Martins was knocked down and you could see the museum from the front of the shop. Nowadays the mall is so much more customer friendly and relaxed. When it was a street it was a 35 mph speed limit and it was chaotic trying to cross, you took your life in your hands dodging cars and buses.

How has the typical customer changed over the years?

The customer hasn’t really changed that much they are still looking for something new and fresh and as retailers we need to change and adapt to new trends and directions. The main change that I see as a result of extended trading hours and technology is that the customer has so much more time to be able to choose when and where they want to shop.

What are some of the challenges associated with bricks and mortar retail today?

For people to come into the city it really has got to be worth their while. It is expensive to park your car and there is a lot of competition from suburban shopping centres. It is therefore imperative that people are drawn to the city for a unique experience. This should be foremost in the thoughts of management and retailers. The existence of flagship stores offering the biggest and best range available offer an immediate point of difference for the mall.

What’s the secret to longevity in the retail industry?

There are no secrets, simply put the customer first. Provide them with what they need and make the experience unique. Have the right product; it is imperative to have merchandise that people want. We carry an extensive range of great labels that are excellent quality and well-priced. I think in business you need to be completely trustworthy and you must treat people the way that you would like to be treated. Your staff is the frontline of any business, they need to like what they do and you need to look after them. Lastly, create great relationships with your manufacturers and suppliers… and pay your bills on time.

How can the CBD’s stakeholder work closer together to drive economic prosperity?

The best way to drive economic prosperity is to keep the customer happy. A customer friendly environment teamed with brand and product pride will ensure the best looking, best service and the best experience all around.

What do you think Rundle Mall will look like in another 40 years?

This mall has been built to withstand one hundred years, so I think in 40 years, Rundle Mall will look very similar to what it looks like now. I believe that is the best Mall we have ever seen and I have confidence that this Mall will be around for future generations to utilise and enjoy.