Pink’s the word as quirky gift shop bucks midwinter blues

Midwinter is not the best time of year for beachside businesses, but one Raglan retailer is right in the pink.

Not only has she more than doubled the size of her once cram-jammed gift shop Zinnia on the corner of Electric Avenue, but Marie Nicholls has re-used the shelving from the old video store into which she expanded last week – and painted it pink.    

Marie was also wearing lipstick to match last Monday morning when the Chronicle visited. It’s become her brand colour for the new and vintage homeware and gifts outlet she‘s owned now for nearly nine years.

While delighted with the extra space, Marie says it was a lot of hard work the week before with Zinnia shut from the Monday to Wednesday after husband Barry knocked down a wall between the two stores.

Most of the wood and “demolition stuff” was recyclable, Marie adds, and was then carted up to Xtreme Zero Waste while staff busied themselves restoring order to her eclectic mix of merchandise.

“I couldn’t have done it without my staff,” she told the Chronicle, adding it’s hard to resist working all the time in a business of one’s own.

The now 65 year old worked as a registered nurse in Hamilton most of her life.  Her first foray into retailing came about 15 years ago with a small “vintage corner” in Right Up My Alley which was then a popular retro shop in Volcom Lane.

Marie however had a hankering for her own space to house the vintage wares she hunts down and gathers, so opened her first shop in Claudelands 10 years ago then a second Zinnia in Raglan – where she has a bach – a year later.

But feeling recently that she needed “more of a life”, Marie sold the Claudelands business because “this one (in Electric Ave) was doing way better”.

Raglan is “nowhere near” as quiet as it was when she started out, Marie explains. Even on a midwinter Monday Zinnia had customers in and out, reacting positively to the larger shop which displays its books now on pink shelves rather than having them piled up on top of each other.

There’s even a strategically placed chair or two, to encourage shoppers to sit and browse.

The expanded premises can also accommodate both pushchairs and wheelchairs, Marie points out, which is another plus.

Edith Symes