Bronwyn Davies has broken into the old BNZ bank building in Warkworth and refilled the empty vault with an eclectic mix of vintage treasures.
Bronwyn is back in Mahurangi after a spell in Devonport, but the rapid rent hikes there forced her out.
“Commercial rents are sky high,” Bronwyn says. “Real estate prices have killed off the adventurous people that otherwise might live there. There is so much talent moving up to this area. It’s got a lot of energy, we need to encourage more boutique business so that people stop here.”
Bronwyn is no stranger to the area having opened the Arts Desire gallery in Warkworth in 1997, which she managed for 10 years. Some of those Arts Desire customers have been welcoming Bronwyn back to the community since she opened the Vintage Vault for business in April.
“It’s lovely that people still remember,” she says.
Bronwyn always wanted to be an artist even from her childhood days growing up on dairy farms across Northland.
“When I was at school, people just didn’t go off to be an artist. I started work with galleries and picture framers. Most art then were prints imported from England and the States. People had Red Boy, Constable, or the Mona Lisa.”
Bronwyn went on to run galleries and represented New Zealand artists. She describes the 1990s as the heyday of New Zealand art because people started to recognise home grown talent and buy the artwork.
The Vintage Vault is a family affair. Bronwyn’s 26-year-old daughter Amber attended Matakana Primary School and Mahurangi College. She is a model for the fifties fashion when working in the store, and manages the online marketing side of the business.
They share the beautiful old bank building with a barista, and stock locally-made perfume and artwork. The vintage collection includes antique and reproduction furniture, clothing, accessories and design.
Much like the vault’s blend of eras the mother and daughter team complement each other well.
“She’s young, she’s got new ideas and I’ve got the experience. It’s the old and the new again – it’s much better to have that mix.”