Vaughan Tessier-Varlet has added another string to his bow in Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct.
On Saturday, he opened the doors of his latest venture “Presence on Harbour St”, in the former site of the weekly craft market.
Stocking 75 per cent New Zealand-made items, such as possum-merino knitwear, creative Oamaru-themed cards as well as artwork, hand-carved glass, jewellery and Kiwi-made foods, the remaining 25 per cent of stock was chosen because it was particularly “funky” – such as a range of bags from New Caledonia.
“It’s a great space, the building has been transformed – it’s allowed the Whitestone Civic Trust to invest money in the building and it’s created jobs,” Mr Tessier-Varlet said.
“There’s so much great stuff out there and we’d run out of space. I wanted to sell different sort of stuff that wouldn’t fit into the old shop.”
Mr Tessier-Varlet, who is the artist/ceramicist behind Lazy Cat Pottery and Tileworks, saw a gap in the market for the sale of possum-merino knitwear in the area.
Presence on Harbour had been about four months in the works, with the idea sparked as a way of keeping the standard of businesses in the Precinct high.
“This is a quality place for visitors to come where they can buy decent New Zealand made stuff,” he said.
“If you spend enough time in this street you realise its potential. It’s got such great potential and the standard of the street needs to be high.
“Our visitors have come a long way and they need quality experiences and that was the motivation.”
Since opening on Saturday, visitor numbers have been very promising.
“Sunday was mad actually, it was like Oamaru woke up,” he said.
However, to a certain extent, the Precinct was still underutilised by Oamaruvians.
While they have some “great” regulars, the majority of their traffic were international shoppers, or other visitors from around New Zealand.
By Rebecca Ryan