Andrew Tripe and Carolyn Nicklin have a vision: to create a place in Whanganui based on quality and style. A place that would feel right at home in Wellington, say.
They have done that with The Treasury.
It's where the National Bank used to be. When Andrew and Carolyn bought it in 2016, it was still equipped as a bank, complete with teller machines. The transformation to what it is now was huge. The couple have put in a lot of work.
"We wanted to do something for Whanganui," says Carolyn. "Something nice that was going to lift the bar a bit."
They call it "masstige". Not mass market and not prestige: it's in between. Within anyone's reach.
"It's an agglomeration: a collection of like-minded things," says Andrew. "What's like-minded is offering great products and services across a range of different businesses."
He says they also wanted to honour the building, its history and its majesty.
The treasury comprises various businesses upstairs and down, all of which contribute to the vision of Andrew and Carolyn.
"Sam Su'a is New Zealand's best hair stylist," says Andrew. Sam occupies a large space upstairs. Next door to him is David Kerridge, with a concept store for unique retail and sharing. Both offices have similar steel-framed glass doors, provided by Sam.
In the downstairs area, behind the doors to the street, is a food and retail sector, enhanced by a paint job completed by Andrew and Carolyn themselves. There you'll find Burrow Fresh, Storied, Soul Fuel Superfood Bar, Burrow Select and more.
Alongside, with an entrance from Majestic Square, is Maria Lane Eatery and Bar, also part of The Treasury.
"All these people are offering an experience, for people in Whanganui to come through and have something a bit different," says Andrew. "At Maria Lane, for example, the customer experience is incredible."
Haidee Connors owns Soul Fuel.
In 2008 she had an accident which resulted in her right arm being paralysed by severed nerves. That led to her being on various pharmaceuticals which masked her pain and anxiety, rather than dealing with the cause.
"About five years ago I started researching food and how it affects every single chemical balance in your body. I gave up meat and dairy and about four years ago I went fully vegan and raw, plant-based eating.
"It got me off pharmaceutical drugs completely."
Her food research led her to create the business called Soul Fuel.
"I want people to be in a better health state. I want people to be more aware."
Soul Fuel provides a range of food and drink with your health in mind, from vegan nachos and raw treats to smoothies and juices, bagels and food that is super delicious.
Soul Fuel is a perfect match for The Treasury.
Bryce Mason and Belinda Pilcher operate Maria Lane.
"Maria Lane was the carpark of the bank, and now we're moving into the bank," says Bryce. He's talking about the wine and cocktail bar called 'Next Door', which required the removal of bits of wall and the creation of a new entrance from the restaurant. It complements the eatery and makes Maria Lane a large part of The Treasury.
Bryce doesn't like to define their restaurant / café style but will say – "Great seasonal produce."
He favours the European dining experience, now that Maria Lane now extends beyond its original boundaries, through to Majestic Square and Victoria Ave. The menu is varied but you will find temptations like 'duck ragu' and 'spaghetti Siciliana', along with hand-cut fries (with aioli) and Maria Lane fried chicken. It's evolving, but they pride themselves on exceptional service.
Maria Lane fits well and truly into the concept of The Treasury.
Storied is the brainchild of Carolyn Nicklin.
"I'm really passionate about 'slow fashion'.
"Things that people can have in their wardrobe for a long time. Things that are beautifully made, well designed, ethical fabrics, ethically produced, long lasting, trans-seasonal, and they'll bring you joy every time you wear them. They make you feel special.
"I started Storied because I wanted to introduce some different New Zealand labels to Whanganui and I wanted to support these designers."
Carolyn stocks products by four New Zealand designers … "As well as my own very small range of knitwear which is made here in Whanganui." The brand is Storied. She also stocks a range of jewellery designed and made in Whanganui by Amla Meijer.
"It's important that all the brands I stock share my philosophy: socially responsible, ethically manufactured, natural fibres …"
Storied is a natural fit for The Treasury.
Burrow Fresh stocks a range of edible goodies, French pastries and delicatessen products – and makes great coffee.
Caleb McNabb is manager of Burrow Fresh and Burrow Select. He says the dough used in the pastries comes from France. It's the real thing.
"We want to give that authentic experience.
"Everyone loves our chocolate almond croissants: we've got our special recipe."
The coffee is Hawthorne and everything is baked fresh every morning.
Caleb loves working there.
"It's like working in another town, but it's still your home town." Caleb is from Whanganui but has been away for some years. He returned during Covid. "It's different to how I left it. It's one of the most beautiful towns: there's so much more to it."
Burrow Fresh suits The Treasury.
Upstairs, through large glass and steel doors, is David Kerridge and his new business, Mothwerk.
"My background is as a creative director in advertising and photography. I was living in Ireland up until about eight months ago." Covid brought him back to New Zealand.
"I'm a designer, but I'm interested in people and communities, sustainability, and I wanted to combine all my interests into an experience in this space.
"I love Whanganui: it's my favourite place in New Zealand." He and Andrew met and discovered a mutual philosophy.
His studio is a space for design and retail. "During the day I'll be selling objects sourced locally and from Scandinavia, Japan, England and Ireland.
"It's a minimalist philosophy, slowing down a bit in life, taking care about what we do."
His items are not mass produced, but created lovingly by craftspeople, one-offs, intended to last as heirlooms, albeit functional. Things like natural air purifiers and ceramic lemon squeezers, which are also works of art. Everything he stocks would make an original gift.
Included in the space is a fernery, a touch of nature, and all part of the slowing down theme. Vintage objects are scattered about to add interest.
He also wants to form relationships with local artists and enable them to record podcasts in his studio.
Mothwerk and The Treasury are made for each other.
In the next room is The Studio, the hairdressing salon of Sam Su'a. It's a large, light space, with an ever changing view through the large windows, looking out on to trees and down into Victoria Ave and Majestic Square.
"It's about hitting that mark, keeping high standards, it's a quality thing," says Sam, when asked how his business fits into the vision of The Treasury. "It's everything I wanted to do, right from service, customer experience, good quality products, attention to detail, was something that sits well with me. If it's not quite right, I'm not happy with it. Even just creating a space in which every little bit mattered.
Sam designed the space.
"I'm influenced by being in Auckland for 11 years. I've seen a lot of good quality outfits and systems that look and feel high-end."
He's brought all that back to his home town.
"I knew I could offer something different … and that people would accept it. He says locals have embraced The Studio and the high standards of workmanship.
"It's about making sure the experience is on point," says Sam. "We've been open six months now and we're jam packed every day.
"[Senior stylist] Alice [Hyland] is full-time and she's got her clientele … it's been a really good vibe, with clients loving it."
Sam says Alice's cuts are very precise and she has a great rapport with her clients.
The Studio works well with the vision of The Treasury.
The Treasury is holding a mid-winter celebration from June 30 to July 10, in which tenant businesses will offer specials and deals. It's a good time for Whanganui people to introduce themselves to The Treasury.
"There should be something for everyone," says Andrew.