Jeweller given one month to leave location
After more than 20 years in business at the same location, self-employed jeweller Kirk Stapff is looking for a job.
Mr Stapff, owner of Kirk's Jewellery Design and Repairs, has been given one month's notice by landlords Butterfield Bank to vacate the 650-square-foot premises in Butterfield Place shopping concourse that his business has called home since 1998.
The letter giving him notice was delivered by hand on May 1, Mr Stapff said, and indicates that he must vacate the premises by May 31. It also notes that Mr Stapff owes more than $9,000 in land tax and corporation tax arrears.
Mr Stapff said he had a three-year lease until 2016 when he requested a month-to-month agreement due to the uncertain economy. Still, he said, the eviction notice knocked him back.
“I was shocked — the letter wasn't expected at all,” Mr Stapff said. “They didn't give me a reason — I don't know the reason yet. I'm kind of angry, but I'm scared, too. Nobody knows the future.
“I know that I owe them for land tax and corporation tax, but not for rent. The rent has been paid in full for 21 years. What I owe them is not a lot of money — I can make that in a week. I will pay it, but soon I won't have the building or the shop to make the money.”
Mr Stapff says he will not relocate due to the set-up costs involved. Instead, he says, he will ask other jewellers if they require help before expanding his job search.
“Obviously, I need to find a job,” says Mr Stapff, who is married with children ages 25 and 18. “Word is getting out about this, so I'm pretty sure a job will come up. It may not be making jewellery, but I can lay block, I am a good labourer, I am a good painter. I am quite versatile.
“I do work for the other jewellery stores already — basic things like repairs and sizing. I can still do that. I've got to talk to the other stores to see what they're offering.”
Mr Stapff, a jeweller for 43 years, says business dropped considerably after the stock market crash a decade ago. “All jewellery stores are suffering,” he said. “In today's economy, jewellery is the last thing people need.
“People need food on the table, they need clothes on their back, they've got to take care of their kids. It's hard times all over.
“I'll be alright. I have got a lot of good people on my side, a lot of support. The worst is what happens to my customers. Where will they get their chain fixed, or a ring sized? I have done wedding band sets, I have thousands of customers out there.
“I have a lot of ideas in mind, but I am not sure what I will do yet, except I have to get a job. My son goes to university this year, I've got to pay for that and work it out somehow.”
Mr Stapff's shop is next door to the concourse entrance to Butterfield Bank. When the bank closed the Rosebank banking centre last month, it said renovations to its head office at 65 Reid Street would include “a modern, expanded banking hall on the Front Street level”.
However, a spokesman for the bank said those plans were not linked to Mr Stapff's eviction.
“As a matter of policy, Butterfield does not publicly disclose the particulars of landlord-tenant arrangements, but we can confirm that Kirk's will be vacating the retail space in the Butterfield Place shopping arcade on Front Street,” the spokesman said.
“That space will be made available for lease as retail space, and is not part of the planned renovations to Butterfield's head office complex.”
Mr Stapff, who specialises in one-of-a-kind jewellery designs and precious stones, says he is selling off his inventory at discounts of 25 to 50 per cent.