Vintage at Victoria Court is a shop as varied, eclectic and interesting as Heather Cotton who runs it.
She is a musician, actor, collector, enthusiast of many things and a lover of stories. Her shop is filled with stories, as is her other shop — Vintage at 3 Rutland St.
“Having filled that [Rutland St] to overflowing, I noticed that this was available, came down and had a look, and it’s just such a neat little arcade. I see this as a little bit old English, a little bit Mediterranean, I love the Japanese Kitchen [a restaurant nearby] ... it just seemed to fit my vibe.”
Formerly Sue’s Alterations, the premises were ideal because Heather sells, among many other things, modern and vintage clothing. There’s even an in-store changing room.
One room has been put aside for books and the rest of the premises support an eclectic range of everything.
Heather is a collector, but she can easily justify selling things on.
“I have now reached the point where I can’t house it any more and I would like somebody else to love it. There are things here that might tug at my heartstrings if they go, but people don’t buy things unless they love them. That’s what I found at my other shop.”
Heather says people see things and immediately see a connection, whether it was something their mother / grandmother / aunt had / used / wore, or some other relationship with the item that compels them to buy it and take it home.
“It’s actually really neat when somebody finds something they love.”
Heather says she also learns a lot about her stock through knowledgeable customers. The lithographic processes that produced a 1920s poster are no longer a mystery, for example.
The stories in her shop are legion, because there are so many things from so many ages. There is a steel fire warden’s helmet from one of the wars, possibly WWI; a perpetual motion insect discourager from 120-odd years ago; kitchenalia; art; hats and shoes; pop culture paraphernalia; scrimshaw; lots of books; a photographic enlarger; a bakelite phone, a large wooden wall phone ... and so much more. Things of wood, iron, steel, tools, leather suitcases and doctors’ bags, baby scales, stoneware, plastic, cloth, card, paper, bottles of yore, enamelled cookware ... and have you ever seen a pants press which is also a chair? If you’re ever in need of a snooker scoreboard ...
She absolutely loved it when a small boy entered the shop in Rutland St and exclaimed: “This is the coolest junk store ever!”
She has a penchant for wood and leather and is attracted to quality workmanship.
Heather grew up in Palmerston North.
“I shot through to Wellington as a 17-year-old ... it was the energy of the place than won it for me.”
After a bit of hospo work she got a job at Wellington City Council.
“I had an interesting and varied career, working in property.”
She has also worked for NZTA, the National Bank, played an orc in Lord of the Rings, and had a brief stint in the army at one stage.
“That taught me a lot about self-discipline and focus.”
She also has a BA in political studies from Victoria University.
Romance brought her to Whanganui for a while, then she was driving taxis in New Plymouth. After a few years Whanganui called her back.
“I met someone who was closing down his business, bought his stock ... I work at Haywards Auctions ...” and it all comes together. She met the landlord of 3 Rutland St and Vintage was born.
“I opened during Covid but people found us.”
She says a lot of her customers are from out of town. Now she’s opened Vintage at Victoria Court and the empire grows. Both stores will be open on Vintage Weekend.