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Unusual new specialty shops changing face of Kilbirnie

Oct 26th, 2012 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

A $1.5 million upgrade of the main street isn’t the only rejuvenation going on in Kilbirnie – the suburb is also attracting some unusual shops.

A friendly atmosphere, proximity to Wellington’s CBD and cheaper real estate are three additional reasons why specialist shops are congregating there.

These include small retail outlets selling a wide range of goods, from ethnic food and textiles to Japanese antiques.

One such store is enticing craftspeople and textile lovers from all over Wellington. Stitchbird Fabrics opened in late May by Lyndy Young, in a small, airy shop located in Kilbirnie Plaza.

Ms Young had been selling imported fabrics and other craft supplies from her online store for several years prior. As her business grew, she started looking for somewhere to store her stock.

The possibility of opening her own shop became a reality when premises in Kilbirnie Plaza came up for sale.

“Because we live in the Eastern suburbs, we knew we’d like to stay out this way,” says Lyndy. “It was exciting to be able to open my own store and be part of the Kilbirnie community.”

Stitchbird Fabrics imports unusual and designer fabric from Japan and other countries, focusing on material not available elsewhere in New Zealand.

Customers can also find a variety of craft and art supplies as well as small hand-crafted items such as bags and stationery.

The reception to Stitchbird Fabrics has been warm, with customers travelling from all over Wellington to buy the unique fabrics and art supplies.

“Kilbirnie is turning into a real specialist shopping destination- we are lucky to have the Children’s Bookshop next door, as well as Wellington Sewing Supplies and the Asia Gallery nearby,” says Lyndy.

She hopes to add to this sense of community by offering evening classes towards the end of the year, including parent-and-child sessions.

It is this sense of community that Lyndy appreciates the most as a new shop owner.

“It’s the people and face-to-face contact that I love most about working here, and the fact that I still feel like a child playing shops”, she says.

Kilbirnie Residents Association president Stephen Moore says it is a great place to own a shop, but it will be even better once the council’s redevelopment is completed.

“Access has been an issue for some time now, and we need to have more carparks in our shopping area,” he says.

Kilbirnie Business Network was founded 18 months ago to support and foster local businesses. Spokesman Bruce Welsh says business owners enjoy the friendly community atmosphere in the suburb.

“It is a good place to open a shop because the rents are cheaper, and people take the time to look around a bit.”

He also points out people living in the area are able to shop and run errands locally: “It is self-contained like Johnsonville. People see it as a hub for this side of town.”

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