People & Places

Shop profile: Wellington’s The General Store

Vintage treasures carefully selected and sometimes restored sit alongside new finds at The General Store, located in one of Wellington’s heritage buildings

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The story behind The General Store

It can be hard for Bec Roberts to leave work behind.

That’s because the owner of The General Store, the iconic Wellington outlet which specialises in vintage, refurbished and unique new homeware, lives above her shop.

Her and partner Thomas Brooks bought the 106-year-old, two-storey villa in 2012. It’s been, variously, a post office, shops and accommodation. “People come in and say, ‘this used to be my bedroom’,” laughs Bec.

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The former film projectionist ripped up the carpet, painted the walls and installed a metal grid which is perfect for displaying vintage movie posters and the Japanese cedar shelving units with hessian straps that she makes. And then the fun began: filling the 40sqm space with the enviable collection of pre-loved items she has collected since childhood.

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“I’ve always loved old things. They were built to last back then,” says Bec, who was born in England but raised in Christchurch. The vintage till, for example, was a gift from Thomas years ago: Bec used to store her jewellery in it but got it working again and it’s now her shop till.

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Most of the stock is sourced from auctions, recycling centres and private collections. Bec also travels frequently, finding items on road trips around New Zealand. The most popular pieces are old filing cabinets which she refurbishes where necessary. “I’m handy with a grinder, but I won’t change pieces that don’t need it,” she says.

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She also knows her way around a hammer, making Rimu clamp frames and peg boards that customers love. She sews the felt hold-alls and created the concrete door stops using old fisherman’s rope she bought at a garage sale years ago.

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Bec also stocks hand-crafted chunky wool products made by her childhood friend Jacinta McLaughlin, cosy picnic blanket-cum-capes from local company Clampet and a range of food products produced not far from the store, including Fix & Fogg Peanut Butter, where Thomas works as the General Manager.

When she’s not in the shop, Bec will likely be in her carpenter brother’s garage, doing bespoke refurbishing jobs, fixing old typewriters and dreaming up new creative projects.

Words by: Sharon Stephenson. Photography by: Nicola Edmonds.

The General Store

81 Aro St, Aro Valley, Wellington 6021

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