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 Roberts. 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.
Most of the stock is sourced from auctions, recycling centres and private collections. Roberts 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.
Roberts 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.