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Wistle + Co - saving the planet one sofa at a time


Guest Article | Elaine Joyce - Retail Design Guru/Specialist

Elaine Joyce has been around retail for a very long time. Elaine has seen the good, the bad and the ugly. What we have always enjoyed is her candour, passion and cutting insight. We were delighted when Elaine agreed to write an article about one of our favourite retailers in Auckland, Wistle + Co. The owner Gwenda Reece also knows a lot about retail and in our opinion, this concept is genius.


 

As a retailer and lover of good design and unique concepts, it is a pleasure to write about Wistle + Co – a new concept to open in the Kingsland Village. Address 399 New North Road, Kingsland.

Wistle + Co is owned by Gwenda Reece. Gwenda is an old school retailer that has been involved in fashion, homewares and customer facing businesses for decades. Although furniture and the consignment model are new for Gwenda, she believes that all good retail concepts should be built on customers’ needs and feedback. She believes that, now more than ever, customers want to shop local, to reuse, upcycle and to mix old and new items. People want homes with a mixture of function, uniqueness and storytelling moments/occasions.



Gwenda says, “Dining rooms are not tables and chairs but comfortable spaces that are welcoming to those we love and should offer the opportunity for people to share and create experiences. Spaces should also house pieces that delight the senses and foster conversations of memories and what inspires us.”


The inspiration and guiding by-line for this business is “saving the planet one sofa at a time”. You walk through the store and are surrounded by unique items to beautify every room of your home. Preloved items make up 60% of the product mix and the other items are a mixture of New Zealand made items or treasures sourced from other local businesses.

A typical day in the life of Wistle + Co is a customer discovering the store and ending up buying a furniture piece they simply fall in love with. After a chat with the team, they discover that most items in the showroom are second hand and are being sold on behalf of previous customers. More often than not, customers have precious furniture pieces at home that need reupholstering, are no longer fit for purpose or don’t fit in their new home.

Wistle + Co offers solutions for both of these scenarios. Whether the customer is downsizing from a 5-bedroom home to an apartment or they are helping to sort an aunt’s estate, the team generally finds a solution. From a business model perspective, customers are the supply chain so relationships are symbiotic and long term.

The 1000 square meter showroom is industrial, yet warm and inviting. It houses plants, outdoor pots fairy lights, furniture and soft furnishing items. Most customers spend at least an hour discovering the different looks, uniqueness and the history behind the treasures. If it is gifts you are looking for, there is something for everyone. Wistle + Co offers the best of children’s books, locally made candles and art made by locals too.

The windows are forever changing and the customers often comment that it is a treat to indulge in “what’s new” during their early morning or evening walks.

Wistle + Co’s website and social media platforms are forever changing and offer new arrivals and other quirky items. FOMO is alive and real as most items are unique and one-off items. Customers tend to visit often in fear of missing out.

The team are lovers of beautiful things. They have moved from fashion, floral and hairdressing industries. They strive to offer a friendly, welcoming and local shopping experience.


Here is what one customer has to say, “Awesome shop. We found exactly what we were looking for. Staff are knowledgeable, kind and helpful. Beautiful workmanship. Highly recommend the store.” Lize Strauss 2022

The Big Sister charity shop, within the store, is just another reason to visit and offers another way to do a little bit of good and to help keep perfectly good items out of the landfill.

My most recent purchase from Wistle + Co is my much-loved gold velvet ottoman. This bespoke piece had only arrived in the store 5 minutes before I bought it. It offers beauty and functionally to my apartment lifestyle and I have my eye on an adorable vintage drinks trolley that has recently arrived.

I am also an only recent discoverer of Op shops and the excitement that buying something preloved can bring – my advice is to visit Wistle + Co but be sure you have at least an hour to make the most of this treasure trove. You won’t be disappointed.

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