Katherine Downs loves Devonport. The long-time resident has recently been appointed as Devonport’s Business Improvement District Manager, a role at the Devonport Business Association supporting local businesses, especially as they get back on their feet following our ongoing lockdowns and Covid disruptions. Katherine has lived in Devonport for 15 years with her husband David and their three children, and has a background in media and marketing. She and David launched the popular SOS website during the first Covid lockdown to encourage people to buy vouchers for cafés and restaurants when they reopened. Katherine tells Channel Mag a bit about her new role, what she loves about Devonport and her plans for summer.
Channel Magazine: What are you hoping to achieve in your new role as Devonport's Business Improvement District Manager?
Katherine Downs: I simply want to enable more people to enjoy Devonport. It’s one of Auckland’s best kept secrets and with the downtown works finally looking close to completion, it’s time to remind Aucklanders we’re here. They’re just a ferry ride away from brunch, lunch, or dinner with a side of beach or volcano! How many locations can offer that?
CM: What do you love about Devonport?
KD: I’m Taranaki born and bred, so I can’t go past appreciating our beaches and the māunga. To also have such stunning village shops and cafés to spend time in with friends and family, as well as having the CBD on our doorstep, it’s been the perfect home for our family.
CM: You've talked about looking at what's happening locally and globally to combat the impact of Covid; why is this important?
KD: I’m a firm believer that out of adversity comes opportunity. We’re not alone in this and there are innovative solutions being trialed, that may also be possible in our neck of the woods. It is certainly a time to think outside the square and be brave about trying new ways of doing things.
CM: Tell readers about why you launched the SOS site and what impact that's had on the community?
KD: SOS Business was initially started to help Devonport’s cafés but was so popular that it became a nationwide initiative within days. The SOS vouchers customers are buying have literally meant bills can be paid. Businesses have been extremely grateful for the huge support they’re receiving from their communities.
CM: What local business are you looking forward to frequenting as we move down alert levels?
KD: I always buy Christmas gifts in Devonport. Our many boutique stores are perfect for it. New clothes and shoes are definitely on the cards for me and seeing the new Bond movie at The Vic Theatre as soon as possible is a must. It’s the perfect theatre for seeing a classic.
CM: This summer I'm going to...
KD: … hopefully be hosting friends and family who have already booked their flights from Australia, Wellington and Wanaka to come to Devonport for their summer holiday. The only thing better than summer in Devonport is sharing it with others, and of course I’m also looking forward to supporting Devonport’s businesses through their recovery and into the future.