There was an air of excitement when the door opened at the Chrome Collective community store at Katikati on Sunday and visitors arrived to check out the creative wares on the shelves.
This was a special moment for the instigators of the social enterprise, Shelley Robinson and Nathalie Thomas, who had the dream to set up a community collective where individuals with and without disabilities could work together to create products for sale.
Four years ago Shelley set up the Chrome Cafe next door with the intention to employ as many people with disabilities as she could. The Chrome Collective was her next big dream.
Speaking at the opening, Shelley said: "We are excited, our kids are excited, the people guiding me on the social enterprise and working together, are excited. Community support has been amazing — big thanks to the Taiao, Lions, Rotary, the vendors, everybody."
Labour List MP for Bay of Plenty Angie Warren-Clark congratulated Shelley and Nathalie for their mahi and drive to get this amazing place for our community.
She met Shelley a few months ago and was asked to open the Chrome Collective.
"Shelley talked to me about her vision for the community and about those the enterprise would serve. I'm delighted with the products and the enterprise aspect which is about running their own business and having an opportunity to learn."
Warren-Clark also sent greetings from the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Camel Sepuloni, who is in lockdown.
To mark the opening, a specially made cake was cut and shared with everyone while browsing the products.
Jane Bond, from Parent to Parent, who supported Shelley with advice and information to develop the idea was clearly pleased to see the result when visiting the shop with Mary Best, who said she was excited about the whole concept.
"I love it; it's absolutely fabulous."
Katikati Taiao chairman Paul O'Neil said Taiao's interest primarily is recognising that disabled folk are valued and are an important part of the community and not hidden away.
"This is a wonderful showcase for disabled folk and their carers to promote and be seen. It's normalising them as part of our community."
Melanie Camoin, from Waihi Beach, is one of the many vendors keen to support the Chrome Collective and has booked space to sell her Secret Fern handmade jewellery. She was pleased to see the shop full of wares.