Created out of a former supermarket and carpark in Greytown, The Hub is a sleek, slick 21st century development around an open plaza.
A community within a community, The Hub houses an eclectic group of eateries, shops and businesses, each a showcase for individuality. Shops include the Greytown branch of Auckland recycled fashion store Encore run by Siddhi Smith. Sourced only from Encore’s Ponsonby HQ, the Greytown branch sells midrange to highend labels. The clothes are so well presented that Siddhi says some customers don’t realise that most are not new. One of the clues is the bargain prices, ranging from $25 to $700 for “something like a once-worn Armani coat,” says Siddhi.
“We are very fussy about what we take, and we go through everything with a fine toothcomb. All the clothes are cleaned, pressed and most look as good as new,” she says.
Also on the street front, Sarah Gibb runs Vintage European Furniture. This very tactile range of linens, oil cloth, antique stripped pine furniture, ceramics and homeware is sourced mainly from the United Kingdom and Europe. A trained landscape architect, Sarah turned her affinity for antiques into a business, choosing goods on trips back home to England, and initially selling through her website. Since setting up shop here, business has boomed. “I get plenty of orders from Auckland. People may have stopped in Greytown, seen something and then gone home and ordered it because the prices are so much better here.”
Across the boardwalk, Deluxe stocks a range of womenswear, furniture, homeware and must-have accessories. And I do mean ‘must-have’ – I found myself accidentally buying a beautifully printed scarf while, er, researching. The shop is owned by Claire Ferguson and John Hedge, owners of Greytown women’s fashion store, Verandah, and art and gift shop Flax. Shoppers will be pleased to know that you can gather loyalty card points from all three.
And it’s well worth the short walk to the end of the boardwalk to see The Gallery@The Hub, a joint venture by two award-winning photographers Esther Bunning and Terry Hann. Esther is a fine arts photographer and Terry has a commercial photography background. Works by both hang in the gallery, along with exhibitions from local artists. Esther is well known for her ethereal, dreamlike and multi-layered images. She takes portraits aimed at capturing the essence of a person, particularly of women, and at all stages of life. Terry has amassed a huge resource of images of New Zealand’s commercial fish species which he is presenting in a variety of arresting fine art prints.
Doing good business
The Hub is also a base for businesses, including creative and digital design agency Alex + Matt Creative. The openness of their glass-fronted working space has proved to be a boon for the couple. “We have picked up at least three or four clients who just walked in off the street,” says Matt. They would have probably been greeted politely by Ollie, the couple’s well-mannered Vizsla dog.
Offering a one-stop bespoke service for branding, media, website and print design, the couple are passionate but down to earth about what they do. Creative director Alex has an honours degree in design and a background in design and advertising. “She’s a creative genius,” says Matt who brings sales and marketing nous, and digital and website know-how to the business. Since setting up in The Hub, the couple have been on a roll, picking up enough business from referrals to double the team, adding another designer and a new account manager.
Moving the distribution centre for Merino Kids from Auckland to The Hub in Greytown has allowed the business to be more creative in the way customers are served, says Merino Kids Managing Director Paula Petrie. “It made sense to move the admin side of the business as 70% of the business is sold online, and we can distribute to anywhere in the world from here,” she says.
A New Zealand business success story, the brand began with the production of the Go Go Bag, a superfine merino sleeping bag for babies and toddlers, that delivered warmth, comfort and blessed sleep for babies – and parents.
If you are looking for Merino Kids locally, products are stocked at Mocking Bird and Emporos in Greytown, and now in David Jones in Wellington. The Greytown business will open its doors to the public on Labour Weekend from 10am –2pm, 22 October, says Paula. It’s a chance to learn about the product and pick up some great offers.
It’s tiring stuff, shopping. Fortunately, you can drop into 2 Short Whites, set in the middle of The Hub, with tables and chairs spilling out onto the boardwalk. At the time of writing, these were begging for warm days and the chance to dither over the café’s menu while sitting in the sunshine. But on any day, you can watch the smooth running of the kitchen in the open plan cafe. Owned by Le Cordon Bleu-trained sisters Sue Wright and Nicky Brindle, the café also runs friendly and accessible cooking classes.
And if you are around for dinner, you can drop into Aroma India, offering a choice of 87 different dishes from the subcontinent. The restaurant prides itself on using handpicked herbs and spices in its cooking, and can tailor the heat to your taste. If you can’t quite make it in, there’s a free delivery service within Greytown.