Thursday, November 10, 2011


I'm a bit selfish when it comes to some things. One of these things is my sources; I would honestly rather be slapped in the face than tell a person the location of the best shop in NZ according to me - it's a secret I guard very jealously. However, our trip to Paeroa on Saturday yielded such delight and beauty (I used the word beautiful so often it became redundant, and yet I meant it every time) that I have to tell you about the places and urge you to go there. According to a couple of the websites we found when researching places to hit, Paeroa is the antiques capital of NZ, a fact we can now confirm. But why doesn't everyone know this? Why hadn't someone, who knows my penchant for old ceramics and vintage clothing, told me I had to go there? I'm choosing to believe it was because they assumed I knew, or don't know themself, so may I tell you in no uncertain terms, if you like beautiful things that are old, you have to go to Paeroa. We are already planning our next trip, and I'm already petitioning people who love me to go in together for Christmas to buy me a set of vintage bronze owls and, the lovely of lovelies, one of the two fur capes I with which I fell in desperate, coveting love. One (presumably fox) has a clasp with fox faces on it (how morbid is that?!) and the other so deliciously full and dark I would have to become a spy if it was mine. Anyway, I hardly came home empty-handed; I had some great luck at St Vincent's, and then, in the last shop we went to, I found The Blouse and The Dress. Both are vintage fifties and sixties respectively, imported from America, and make me feel like a Woman. I realised when clasping the parcel to myself (the lovely proprietress wraps the clothes in tissue) that I do love clothes. I hoped I didn't, but I do.

Here is a simple guide to Paeroa.
1. Shops open at 10am and close at 4pm, but if the day is quiet they may shut earlier so it's best to go early. We arrived bang on ten, and it was more than worth being out of the house at 8am.
2. Best Stops:
i) St Vincent de Paul. The lady there (who became my friend) calls Auckland visitors 'The Boho Girls', and we are allowed to use the storeroom as a changing room (it's huge) and pick out stuff from there if we like. She was also involved in Springbok Tour protests, and had her picture in the paper; massively brave for a woman in a small town, where she was already branded a hippy for having a flowerbox on her bathroom window. After the protests, someone went as her to a halloween party.
ii) Arkwright's Antiques. I was hooked when I saw the dead doll in one of the freaky prams out the front, and then I discovered the furs. This antique shop is beautifully curated by two women who know their stuff; it's loaded to the gunnels but there is no crap, and things are fairly priced. Apart from the furs, the ceramics were my favourite things; shelves and shelves of jugs and teapots and vases. Most of what I saw I didn't want to buy, but looking at it all had me in raptures.
iii) The Vintage And Retro Shop. This was the last place we went to, and almost missed. That would have been Tragic. This is my dream shop; pink and small, with one changing room that had pictures of Marilyn down the side of the mirror, making me feel not pathetic but lucky as I shimmied my hips into The Dress (in which I admittedly cannot bend over). The first thing you notice when you walk in is the row of vintage hats on the wall, mostly from the fifties and sixties. I wanted several, but apparently I have a very not fifties and sixties sized head. Then you notice the racks. At first they don't seem so impressive, and then you notice the fabrics. Then one piece catches your eye, and that's it.

Tips: Take cash; no-one had eftpos except the tearooms. Besides, it's much more fun handing over cash; the town already has a seventies feel, and cash is far more authentic. And drive back through Te Aroha; there's a dingy little op shop where all clothes were $1 for one day only, and the town itself is lovely.

I can't wait to wear my dress. It's not bragging when I'm describing the dress and not myself in it - it's bangin'.

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