After three years in Oamaru’s Victorian precinct, Nanna Bangles is on the move – to Nelson.
The Harbour St vintage curiosities shop closed last week, and owner Livvi Kwant and her partner Henry Jones are settling into their new home.
Ms Kwant moved to Oamaru seven years ago, after securing an information management role at the Waitaki District Council.
She decided to start Nanna Bangles when chronic health conditions meant she was no longer able to work a 40-hour week. She was reluctant to rely on a sickness benefit, and wanted to have more control over her life.
Receiving guidance and support from family who ran vintage stores in Christchurch, and with a large personal collection of vintage and retro clothes and homewares, she launched her business in a small space beside the Victorian Wardrobe in November 2017.
“Because I already had a big collection of things, it was quite easy to transition into selling my things something I love, and keep doing it.
“I made my hobby into a job.”
She soon outgrew the space beside the Victorian Wardrobe and, in August 2018, she moved a couple of doors down to 6A Harbour St, where the business had been for the past two and a-half years.
The name “Nanna Bangles” was inspired by her grandmother Dorothy.
“Chloe [Searle], my older cousin, dubbed our grandma Bangles and Beads’, because she wore bangles and beads
“I feel quite an affinity with Nanna B, so it was only fitting to keep her spirit alive by naming the shop after her.
“Because I sell a lot of stuff that you might find at grandma’s house, in grandma’s wardrobe, it just felt like a good fit.”
She sold a wide range of vintage and retro items, and loved finding and stocking “weird kitschy stuff” and being “a bit more quirky”.
“Some people might think that kitschy salt and pepper shakers are beneath them, but the number of people who love them and can’t leave the shop without buying some,” she said.
Ms Kwant has been op-shopping all her life and when she moved to Oamaru, she started going to garage sales every weekend.
“There’s just so much cool old stuff in Oamaru and it was hard not to end up with a huge collection.
“Then I just ended up with so much stuff – I didn’t want to leave behind really cool things, and they were bargains as well.”
Owning her own vintage shop was not a path she expected to take.
“It wasn’t what I always thought I’d do – but I love it.”
The flexibility of owning her own small business had been good – especially for managing her health.
“If I have a bad day, I don’t have to push myself too hard.
“And if I’m doing well, I can be more productive.”
Being able to have her dog Jimmy with her at work was a bonus, and she enjoyed meeting new people – especially meeting with online customers in person.
“I’ve met lots of really awesome people, from all over the country.”
She also had a lot of loyal local customers, who she would miss.
Since the Covid-19 lockdown, she had noticed a real increase in support for local businesses.
“People are more into shopping local, and we’ve got more Kiwis passing through – I had my best winter yet.”
Ms Kwant sells a lot of clothing online, mostly through social media, and she would continue doing that from Nelson. She hoped to sign a lease on a new space for Nanna Bangles soon.
Her partner, who had been teaching at Waitaki Boys’ High School for the past six years, was looking forward to starting his new job at Nayland College, she said.
The warmer weather in Nelson would be good for her health and there was a good vintage scene, she said.
“They have good op-shops there .. and being close to Wellington will be quite good.”