Curate, don't berate

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Big-box retailers who shout at you in TV commercials will try to tell you their range of Christmas gifts is ‘special’, ‘exclusive’ and ‘selling out fast’. But how can that be? The very same mass-produced, mass-sourced goods are available at the competitor barn just down the road. Retailers committed to a truly unique shopping experience must work much harder to source distinctive, high-quality products for discerning customers.

 Millie Blackwell

Millie Blackwell

The artisans, craftspeople and boutique manufacturers of Europe and the US have had to tune their ears to a different accent over the last six months or so.

Blackwell and Sons’ Merchandising Manager and Central Otago’s finest, Mrs Millie Blackwell, has trodden kilometre after kilometre and talked commercial turkey with producers of many nationalities in search of items worthy of their place on the Blackwell and Sons shelves.

“It’s personal,” Millie says, “not only because our name is on everything we sell, but because our whole reason for existing is to give customers a genuinely peerless shopping experience. I know that if I’m not happy with the quality and pedigree of the products we stock, our customers certainly won’t be.”

Millie has soured the day of many eager suppliers by having to pass on their goods, simply because their supply chains or manufacturing processes are uncertain or questionable, or they don’t fit the theme of ‘Luxury Cycling Lifestyle’ that makes Blackwell and Sons distinctive in New Zealand.

Quality and exclusivity are Millie’s guiding principles as she curates a range of limited editions and everyday essentials for the Greytown emporium and online store. Those principles are reflected in superb product lines such as Barebones Living outdoor and gardenware, Peterboro baskets, Picnic Time picnicware, Goorin Bros hats, London Socks and SIC drinkware.

These lines can’t be purchased anywhere else in New Zealand.

“I’ve tested and can enthusiastically endorse every item in these ranges,” Millie says. “And I’m not going to tell you to hurry while stocks last. You should take your good time, and ask us as many questions as you like. That’s what I did.”