Where do you go in Tauranga for all those little treats you miss from Dear Old Blighty?
The U.K. Shop of course, that now sells around 450 different imported items from Britain, ranging from food, to souvenirs and football shirts – and all sorts of patriotic products with Union Jack branding, from plates to hats.
The shop launched by ex-Londoners David and Bernadette Shine, who hail from Mill Hill and Cricklewood, has been trading nearly 7 months, with the help of a wave of Brit migrants who’ve poured into Tauranga and now number an estimated 7000.
Bernadette Shine says 99.9% of their customers are British and the remainder are Kiwis who’ve done their OE, and enjoyed tasting “bits and pieces” during their stay in the U.K. “They come in and say ‘I had such and such when I was there, have you got it?’ And I usually have, which is good,” adds Bernadette.
Top selling food items include Walker’s Crisps, Bisto gravy granules and Mc Vities Jaffa Cakes (the name can baffle Kiwis used to the slang term for an Aucklander). They are low fat, adds Bernadette, so you can eat a whole packet and not feel guilty.
Some of the items like the Bisto mix (doesn’t go lumpy), are especially hard to source in New Zealand. So the Shines bring in British produce by the container-load, but sometimes resort to buying from a trader in Auckland. In front of their shelves, with Brit brands like Typhoon tea, you pinch yourself – you’d swear you were in Tescoes back in the old country.
Some of the more unusual food items include Grant’s tinned haggis, Yorkshire pudding and British chip shop batter. Say, what? It’s a traditional batter mix that “just reminds you of home – the chip shops,” says Bernadette, chuckling. It quickly becomes apparent that what they are selling along with the consumer goods is good old dose of wistful nostalgia
When they first kicked off the Shines asked customers for suggestions on what to stock, and quite a few suggested clothing. The couple responded and now stock brands from the iconic Marks & Spencers, to British Home Stores, Gap and Next. There are football items too, of course, to cater for soccer-mad expatriates. “Blankets with the teams (names) on, scarves, hats…we’ve tried to stay with the premiership, ” says Bernadette, we can’t fit the gear from every team into the shop.
She’s full of praise for life in New Zealand, even though you need two people working she says, to bring in enough income for quality of life. She admits the couple do experience some homesickness themselves. Bernadette says David is more homesick than she is, and “sending him home around October to catch up with family and friends – and his favourite band playing at Shepherd’s Bush – Mott the Hoople (They were a 70’s British rock and roll and glamour rock band, best known for the song “All the Young Dudes”).
Catch the Shines and their little unofficial British outpost at 124A Devonport Road, Tauranga. And hum Rule Britannia as you walk in the door…