If you’re anything like us, you’ve passed through Thames a thousand times on your way to The Coromandel but never stray far from the supermarket or the petrol station. So when we got the chance to visit our friends at Re-Store Eco Market last week, we jumped at the opportunity to get to know this bustling little town on a more intimate level. Thanks to limited pressures for development, and local pride in the town’s history, Thames has retained a wealth of historical buildings from when it was founded in 1867 during the gold-mining days.
Formed when Shortland and Grahamstown merged, there’s a noticeable contrast between the two ends of town. And residing in the bustling and trendy Grahamstown to the North, Re-Store seems perfectly at home alongside the many likeminded cafes and vintage stores that are scattered along the main street. We were quickly won over by the energy of a town we’d often overlooked and were excited to learn more from Re-Store co-owners, Tash Donnelly and Vita Dryden. Here’s what they had to say…
How did Re-Store get started?
Re-store was started by Tash Donnelly and Vita Dryden, two mums who were frustrated by the amount of waste generated the weekly shop and wanted a better way to shop.
What’s it like living in Thames and has it always been home?
Tash was born and bred here and Vita moved here around 10 years ago. Thames has definitely grown in the last few years with Covid seeing many people and young families escaping the city or returning from oversees. Thames has an amazing backyard with beaches and bush adventures on our doorstep, and with a number of new businesses popping up, a really great energy has been created.
Are you supported mostly by locals or more by tourists / people passing through?
We are lucky to be well supported by locals in Thames and around the Coromandel Peninsula. Because of this, we have weathered recent lockdowns of the cities better than many other businesses in the Coromandel that rely on the tourist numbers.
Do you feel a competition with the local supermarkets or do you feel that the market is changing?
We don’t feel like we are in competition with the supermarket, but more an alternative and /or complementary option for people. Our prices are competitive, if not better, than the supermarket for many items, without the unavoidable packaging that comes with supermarket shopping. We offer our customers a much more personalised shopping experience, and can greet the majority of our customers by name. Thames also has a great little organic co-op in town too and we are always conscious to work in a way that compliments them, rather than competes with them. If we don’t or can’t stock something, we’ll try and point people down their way or somewhere else that may be better suited.
How quickly do you go through stock and what are your most popular items?
We move most stock very quickly. Just when we think we’ve out ordered ourselves, we’ll find we need to order more. Volare Bread and Duck Island Ice Cream are definitely two of our most popular items with customers.
Do you stock a lot of New Zealand made products?
We prefer to stock what we can from NZ. For many products this isn’t possible, but we make a point of buying NZ made where we can. We also have a large wall dedicated to products made in the Coromandel and really encourage the support of other local businesses.
What are some of the coolest sustainability trends or products you’ve seen in 2021?
2021 with all its’ lockdowns and hardships on small businesses has been very much about supporting local and supporting small business. Consuming less and buying for need, not want is also a pretty important around this time of year!
Most importantly, what’s your favourite Volare product and how have our products been received by your customers?
Volare has been a hit with our customers since coming on board. I can’t pick a favourite from any of the 5 sourdough loaves we stock as they’re all amazing…though as of tomorrow we are adding pastries/ croissants and cronuts to the line up which is going to be baaaadddd!!! (for my waistline!)
So if you’re passing through Thames on your way to the beach this year, do yourself a favour and make a little pitstop in Grahamstown. Take your reusable bags and jars along to Re-Store, stock up for your holiday, then treat yourself to a coffee at Cafe Melbourne who also love a bit of Volare bread.
Just a reminder, you can also preorder almost any of our Volare or Breadbox items through all of our amazing On-Sellers to ensure you get exactly what you want before they run out. And if you want to order a Christmas Eve delivery, just make sure to get your order in with them before December 17th.
A huge thank you to Tash and Vita for taking the time to meet with us, we can’t wait to get back for a visit soon!