A Nelson family business has celebrated 10 years in the CBD by buying their building on Hardy St.
In August, Eclectic Antiques purchased the building they have been leasing ever since they moved to the central city in 2009.
Owner Maria Henare said it was a long way from where she and her husband Shane had started out, renovating antique furniture in Timaru.
“To think we’d ever own this building is nothing short of a miracle really. It was a longshot and a rollercoaster ride – but it’s a great feeling because we know we’re not finished in the city as Eclectic.”
The couple opened their first antique store in 1994, travelling far and wide to find the best deals and collectables with their young children bundled up in the back of the car.
Along with Maria and Shane, their sons Josiah and Matthias have been a part of the business from the very beginning.
“It wasn’t unusual for us to drive from Timaru to Christchurch in the early hours of Saturday morning”, Henare said. “We’d be sleeping in the car waiting for The Press to come out so we could get the garage sale list.”
“We didn’t have a lot of money, but back then you got some great deals.”
While the business started promisingly, Henare said things faltered when the couple branched out into more retro and mid-century antiques.
“I started to get into some things I saw that were happening overseas. Back then New Zealand was always a few years behind – we were probably a bit before our time.”
Henare said she vowed not to get back into the business again, but after moving to Nelson in 2003, the pull was too strong to resist.
After starting out at the Nelson Market selling a few boxes of collectables and custom jewellery, Shane and Maria were able to set up a small shop in Stoke and then later on Waimea Rd.
“We grew quite rapidly really, I always believed we could do bigger things, but after what happened in Timaru it was one of those once bitten, twice shy things.”
An opportunity came up on Hardy St when the former Tressens Interiors shop came up for sale in 2009.
“We always need space, we could take up a whole block – but I never thought in a million years we would get in here, it’s such a prime location.”
To keep the Hardy St store in stock, the Henares have spread the net far and wide to find the most interesting antiques on offer.
Almost every year they head to the USA, hiring a 26-foot truck and searching across states for deals.
“We drive and we shop. We do antique centres, markets, we’ve met a lot of people. People will see us and see that you’re spending money – we’ve been invited to storage sheds and all that sort of thing.”
“It’s all about the thrill of the chase, because we never know what we’re going to turn up. We’ve been doing this nearly 30 years now, and that drive is still there.”
At the end of the trip they ship back a 40-foot-container full of antiques back to Nelson.
Henare said while antique dealers traded in items from the past, it was not an industry that stayed still.
“It’s a changing market, just like anything else. Several antique shops have closed in Nelson in the past couple of years – all for different reasons but a lot of is that business isn’t doing well.
“You’ve got to move with what’s happening. We’ve got to follow what people are wanting, how they want to furnish their houses, what is collectable.”
“The whole nature of antique shops is changing, definitely. You’re forever learning, but you can be in tune with what is happening.”
Credit: Tim Newman, Stuff