Celebrating the past with pizazz at Zinnia

Raglan’s very own treasure trove Zinnia is a tribute to owner Marie Nicholls’ love for vintage and retro.

With long-time manager Jo Sweeney and second-in-charge Charlie Irvin holding fort at the store, Marie is doing what she loves best – sourcing the antiques and collectibles that make Zinnia a destination for shoppers looking for something unique.

Marie’s exquisite taste and keen eye for what’s hot or what’s going to be hot in the market, means she is often ahead of the current vintage trends.

“I started buying vintage as soon as I had my own money,” she says.

Born and bred in Napier, there was definitely the influence from the town’s art deco vibe.

But it was a blue and white Willow jug belonging to her grandfather that first set Marie off on her collectible journey.

“When my grandfather died, I got the jug and I added to the ‘blue and white’ for a while.”

Included in her personal collections are the classic trio of flying ducks and the Crown Lynn swan vases, both of which have increased in value since Marie first set her eye on them.

In the last few years, Marie has been influenced by French ceramics and kitchenware, and a favourite is Majolica pottery.

Evoking a French country kitchen, Majolica is tin-glazed earthenware that has grown in popularity and value among collectors.

Her newfound love for French antiquities has taken her on several buying trips to France.

The buying trips are organised by Romantique in Auckland, and Marie joins several other retailers sharing the costs of a shipping container.

“They drive us around all the markets and shops and recycling centres. Anywhere we might find something old and interesting.”

This last trip is already unpacked and adorning the shelves in Zinnia, and Marie is particularly enamoured with the French Aquarium lamps.

“I came upon a collection of them and hadn’t seen them before. It took me a while to get my eye and mind around. ‘Gosh, do I like them? Or don’t I?’ But I decided I really do like them,” she laughs.

“I’m always looking for things that are quirky and different. They aquariums are from the ‘60s, originally from Vallauris in the South of France where Picasso did his ceramics.”

Zinnia first started life in Hamilton in 2008 and in 2009 the Raglan shop opened; Marie had spent 10 years doing the markets around Auckland and the Waikato before she opted for a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop. 

She had already ventured into Raglan with a vintage corner in a shop run by Keith Savage and Lisa Kerrisk called Right Up My Alley before opening her own shop.

By that time, Marie and her husband were already splitting their lives between Hamilton and Raglan having bought a bach in 1998.

Nowadays, Marie only has the Raglan shop and regular customers will travel to Raglan from Hamilton and beyond to shop at Zinnia.

It’s not only the vintage products that draw the shoppers to Zinnia; books, cards and other gifts are also popular sellers.

With her buying trips taking her out of the country and away from Zinnia, Marie knows the shop is nothing without the amazing staff.

“The staff are really important to me. Jo and Charlie are long-time Raglan residents and they are so good at what they do. I am very lucky to have such a great team.”

Always on the hunt for unusual treasures, Marie is back to France on another buying trip in September.

“I’d like to find more retro stuff from the ‘60s. And the other thing that sells well from France is the religious iconography.”

With Marie always on the hunt for the unusual, you can be certain of one thing when you visit Zinnia; there will be something new and interesting around every corner.

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