Ben Blair is following his passion, and in his father’s footsteps, opening an antiques store in Oamaru.
Today, Vintage Ben Antiques opens in Thames St, just a few doors down from where Mr Blair’s father, Evan, ran an antiques store for 45 years.
Evan’s Antiques was an institution in Oamaru, and Mr Blair worked for his father until the store closed in 2010. Since then, he has been a stay-at-home father, and focusing on music.
Opening his own store had been at the back of his mind for a while and the timing felt right – ”now that everyone has moved on from minimalistic and throwaway” – to get back into it, he said.
Mr Blair stocks a wide range of items – dating from the 1800s to the 1970s. Some of the items he had owned for many years, while other pieces he had picked up from auctions and second-hand stores all around the South Island.
For Mr Blair, the greatest thrill came from giving old pieces new life, and helping people find what they had been searching for.
“It’s pretty cool to pull a piece of furniture from the likes of the recycle centre – you know it’s just about on the dump heap – and restoring it and letting it live again, that’s really satisfying,” he said.
Mr Blair looked at about 10 different spaces for his store in Oamaru, and the former Flowerz 4 You premises in Thames St ticked all the boxes. He has spent the past month preparing it for opening day.
“It’s been pretty cool pulling it all together,” he said.
Vintage Ben opens at 1pm today, and will celebrate with late night shopping, closing at 8pm. Mr Blair had fond memories of late night shopping in Oamaru, and would test the waters for more late nights in the future.
He hoped there would be enough interest for another antiques store in Oamaru. There was certainly demand in the online space, but his focus was on the local market for now.
“I want locals to have a good wee crack it,” he said.
“I’m not going put anything online yet.”
Outside of work, Mr Blair loved the outdoors and the variety of outdoor pursuits the Waitaki district offered.
“Lakes, mountains and mountain bike tracks – it’s perfect for me,” he said.