Twenty years ago today Allan Wills and Carol Scott embarked on an adventure that has seen them change the interior of an iconic Oamaru building and turn it into a haven for tourists and car enthusiasts.
The pair opened the Woolstore Complex two decades ago following a year of extensive renovations to turn it from a wool and grain storage building into an area with a vast variety of attractions including a cafe, portrait studio, galleries and an auto collection.
Ms Scott said the restoration of the building, which was built in 1881, took 12 months of hard work, which was completed by the late Robin Nind and his son Peter, with the help of the owners.
When they opened, on November 19, 1994, there was a cafe and gift shop. The Oamaru Auto Collection opened a year later. Now they have more 10 tenants with the longest serving being Carol Edwards from The Photo Shoppe, who has been there 15 years.
After 20 years they are really happy with everyone in the building especially having such a wide variety of tenants upstairs in the galleries, which was designed and created by Terry Gloistein with the help of Ms Scott and Mr Wills, she said.
“The building and what’s in it is now is pretty much how we want it to stay.
“We love the building and we love meeting visitors.
“We’ve enjoyed building it up as a hub for tourists in the historic precinct.”
Some of the highlights have been getting to know the people they have met through the Oamaru Auto Collection and they have also had a lot of fun collecting autographs and memorabilia, she said.
“We have built up a world-wide reputation with the auto collection.”
Mr Wills said the biggest change over the past 20 years has been the increasing number of visitors because tourism in Oamaru has been building up recently.
“Each year it gets better.”
Some positives for him include giving an old building a modern use and working with the great people they’ve met along the way, he said.
A birthday celebration for the building will be held at the Woolstore Complex on Sunday afternoon. Anyone who has been involved with the building over the past 20 years is invited to come along and have some cake.
By RUBY HARFIELD
PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD
LONG HISTORY: The Woolstore Complex owners Carol Scott and Allan Wills looking over an album of photos from when they started renovating the building.