What a difference a year makes!
It's hard to believe that it's been nearly a year since the country went into lockdown, and only nine months since we first walked into the dark, drab, unloved space that would become our new lighting studio. It's fair to say that anyone other than Rachel or Phil would have turned around and walked straight back out the front door, but they saw potential. Phil grabbed his ladder from the car and gingerly lifted a ceiling panel. He turned to Rachel and said those five magic words - 'I think this might work...'
Just weeks earlier, we saw a surge in demand for decorative lighting as people began to invest both time and money into their properties, an unexpected repercussion from Covid as more and more people began to work from home, and international travel was on hold.
The original showroom in Paeroa had the disadvantage of being both blazing hot in summer and glacial in winter. After lockdown, we urgently needed the extra warehouse space, and Rach decided to move the showroom to the Hamilton area. Less than 15 hours later, we found the perfect spot in Gordonton, a bustling little village with fantastic coffee and ice-cream (the basis for any good location!) and plenty of parking.
But the building needed some serious lovin'. The previous lease belonged to a vet, and as we walked into the building, the smell of antiseptic hit us like a ton of bricks. The ceiling had a low stud (a lighting shop's worst nightmare), and a thick layer of dust coated the stained linoleum floor and the chipped concrete block walls.
And so began eight weeks of intense renovation. The 2.4-metre ceiling came down, revealing a gorgeous 4-metre high gable roof. Phil pulled back the outdated linoleum flooring and ground the exposed concrete (which dated back to when the site was a gas station). He removed walls and added plywood features. In one particularly nightmarish moment, dead rats fell from the ceiling cavity. The entire process was a labour of love.
But it was worth it. Like the original showroom, this is a space dedicated to light. The layout takes you on a journey that begins with glass, wood, clay and rattan and concludes with metal and concrete. The crowning glory is a charcoal painted room that showcases a carefully curated collection of pendant lights.
Here at the Gordonton showroom, we are more family than work colleagues. Rachel, Summer, Jo and Meg previously worked together, and their commitment to exceptional customer service is the number one priority. Since opening, Mr Ralph has launched a free mobile design service where the talented Meg comes into your home to discuss different lighting options - the perfect solution for those who have trouble visualising a new light in their space.
The local community has warmly embraced Mr Ralph, and we're incredibly fortunate to be situated next door to the ever-popular The Mandarin Tree. The showroom is only a 10-minute drive from Hamilton and an hour from Auckland and Tauranga. And we’ve proved that we're a destination shop - our customers have come specially to see us from as far away as Kerikeri and Wellington!
So if you haven't come in to see us yet, be sure to drop by the next time you're driving past. We'd love to show you around and have a chat about your project.