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Treasures . . . The Quirky Magpie owners Lorraine Shortus (left) and Lisa Small are always on the lookout for creative and eccentric items to stock. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

Waimate’s main street is undergoing a transformation, and Lisa Small and Lorraine Shortus are excited to be part of the change.

The longtime friends, who have both lived in Waimate for about 20 years, opened The Quirky Magpie in Queen St in December last year.

Although the idea of opening a store had been in the pipeline for “a long time”, once the space became available, they pulled it all together in about two weeks, Mrs Shortus said.

“We decided to give it a go and have fun with it,” she said.

“Waimate is undergoing a revamp and things are quite exciting.

“We wanted to get on board.”

A few years ago, the north end of Queen St was relatively empty, but now most shops were full and there had been a surprising number of tourists visiting the South Canterbury town, they said.

“We had no expectations, if we paid the bills and had fun we would be happy – which we are,” Mrs Shortus said.

While the number of international visitors had dropped since the Covid-19 lockdown, there were still a lot of domestic tourists, and people from Timaru and Oamaru regularly made day trips to Waimate.

“Not everyone goes online and finds stuff,” Mrs Small said.

Mrs Shortus also has an interior design business, and Mrs Small runs a cropping farm with her husband.

Vintage homewares, locally-produced art and a variety of collectables fill the shelves and at least 20 local artists have their works on display.

“We have only touched on the people we know, there are a lot of creative people around that we don’t know about.”

They have a simple method for deciding what items to stock.

“If we like it, it’s in,” Mrs Small said.

“It just has to be quirky and cool.

“We try to keep it New Zealand made and local as much as possible.”