Margaret Hetherington’s The Red Barn is well known for its homely feel.
As shopping and buying online grows with every new digital native coming of age, vintage and collectable stores continue to stand the test of time.
Good old-fashioned physical stores, labeled ‘bricks and mortar’ in the digital marketing world, still make up at least 90 per cent of retail sales in New Zealand.
Internationally, even online-based businesses are opening boutique physical stores as customers crave connection.
It’s no surprise to Margaret Hetherington, who has been selling her quality antiques and coveted collectables at TheRed Barn in Warkworth for the past 30 years.
While she did notice a down turn when online stores became more popular 10 years ago, it has never fazed her. Initially it did make a mark on some retailers with heavy overheads who had to close, but for Margaret The Red Barn was part of her property so she was able to absorb it.
She has remained consistently busy, with upsurges as trends for vintage come and go with younger people. While she understands the convenience of buying online, Margaret says it’s just not the same as hunting for vintage treasure in real life.
“You can’t touch it, you can’t feel it and have a really good look at it. That’s no good.”
Margaret’s store is well known for its homely feel, albeit one full of vintage collectables, which you can leisurely potter around in while she works out the back restoring antiques.
Rummage owner Yvonne Clifton agrees that a relaxed environment is key and people enjoy taking their time to walk around, rummage and talk about the history of vintage objects.
“People love to share their stories with you. There are not many environments where someone you’ve never met before will quite happily pick up a piece and tell you a story about how they used to have this, what it does, where it came from and how it was made.”
Yvonne says when she started her vintage and retro store in Matakana three years ago she didn’t even consider she was competing with digital sales.
Instead she embraces it and sells some of her more unique items online. She says it gives her national reach and acts as another sales and marketing channel. But she has more sales in her physical store and says it’s much more fun for her and the clients.