Retail is a tricky business across the board, but just imagine how tricky it is when you’re in a market as small as New Zealand’s (the entire population is only four million). One store that’s not letting market size restrict their ideas is Wellington-based Good As Gold. They’ve been consistently doing cool shit since they debuted in 2004 and have even managed to expand along the way. Rather than being a big fish in a small pond Good As Gold is more likely the right fish in exactly the right pond.
How did Good As Gold begin?
GAG Wellington opened in 2004 as a friendly, creative, multi-branded store with a cafe at the back. The original idea was to run it like a magazine, so we would curate the space with stock and changing themes that included collaborations with creatives and brands that resounded with us. Over the last 13 years the store has steadily grown; we now stock over 80 brands, have another store in Auckland, a distribution company, in-house brand, and a growing online shop.
Who’s the team behind Good As Gold?
Ruben and Ashlee run the business with a crew of about 20 incredible staff that make it all happen. We are a random bunch of people who love to offer great service and products to our super diverse community of customers. We also pull in talented friends to add to the mix with design, music, ideas, and photography.
What sets Good As Gold apart from other stores?
We are always on the hunt for new brands to introduce into the market, which can be really tricky in a marketplace as small as ours. We try not to jump on band-wagons as much, instead we choose products that show strong design and a great story. We also try to create a community around what we do by hosting parties and launches on the regular, whether it’s a booze fueled pool party, photographic exhibition, a Sunday BBQ or our regular Friday night beers in the shops (which we have done for the past 12 years). Everyone is always invited! We have always strived to create a welcoming, warm and friendly shop for our community.
What’s the fashion scene like in New Zealand?
It’s small, but super turned on. We know the world is shrinking and everything is starting to look identical. The volume of same/same information and images can really dull the senses. I feel like the NZ scene takes parts of this global homogenized vibe and mellows it out, making it a little more down to earth and real. We don’t have the strongest currency and people don’t have loads of disposable income, so we mix lower and higher end brands with vintage a lot.
How do you decide which labels to stock?
Our shops are pretty full now so a brand really has to stand out for us to order it. We are a design driven business and Ruben is from a graphic design background so we tend to look for strong branding and imagery. The brands we carry have clear brand concepts and attention to detail. These days we are also consciously trying to buy more ethical and mindfully made products. Most importantly we look for brands/people that we get along with, so we can work together and have fun while trying to make a little money. We love all of our brands but some of our favourites are P.A.M., Kowtow, Brain Dead, New Balance, Henrik Vibskov, Shark Week, Yu Mei, Parra, Stan Ray, Taikan, Norse Projects, Patagonia, Maharishi, and Wood Wood.
Can you tell us a little about the Wellington store’s treehouse inspired fit out?
Ruben grew up climbing trees and building forts in the bush out the back of his family home. So the idea of creating a giant tree fort that was warm, welcoming, fun and functional for staff and customers was the goal. The fit-out took three months, two builders, help from many friends and family and a LOT of native NZ timber.
There’s a real community that has developed around Good As Gold, how did you create that?
It was important to us from the start. The concept of the store has always been to function as a meeting place or standard for the community. It is still the highlight of our work to be able to pick up an exclusive international brand or to provide a platform for a new brand or creative, especially in a place so small where opportunities are harder to come by. The community is what keeps us afloat so it’s a tight relationship, true give and take. That’s why we throw parties and the like, it’s our way of saying thanks and enjoying our people.
Do you have any plans to expand overseas? Is an Good As Gold store in Australia on the horizon?
Sorry to say, we don’t have plans for more stores in NZ or overseas. Right now we are enjoying being small and approachable. We want to be the best we can be and getting bigger can make that harder on a person to person level.
Any else you want to add?
Thanks for the chat!