Online shopping is great, but sometimes you just can’t beat a good old trip to your favourite local.
Why Knot Outlet Shop, Auckland – Duncan Greive
There’s an unbelievable amount to love about Why Knot Outlet Shop, an East Tāmaki institution buried near the end of a long string of light industrial buildings alongside Springs Road. Firstly, its name: the shop is neither nautical, nor rope-related, yet: knot. Brilliant. Second, the frenzy. This place absolutely pops. It’s like the Nike store at Dressmart during a flash sale, except all the time. You queue to park. You aggressively defend your spot when merchandise gets low in a coveted area. It’s an elbows out on the trolley kind of place.
Mostly, it’s about the product – all groceries all near, at, or sometimes well-past their expiry dates. Sometimes it’s luxurious brands you’d never ordinarily afford: a wheel of Puhoi washed rind for $8? I’ll have three, thanks. Sometimes it’s a pricey ordinary product where the expiry is irrelevant: my last daughter drank expired formula for six straight months and she seems basically fine.
The best part, to me, is discovering exotic brands from all over the world, or products from famous New Zealand manufacturers that seem like they have a sense of doom about them. These can be disasters as often as triumphs: huge cans of refried beans, lubed with lard, or a new flavour of Vitawheats that is just really horrible and legit stale. But every time there’s a sense of discovery and potential, and a whole trolley of dodgy shit you never knew you wanted leaves with you for like $80. Why knot? Indeed.
Duncan Greive is the Spinoff managing editor
Martha’s Backyard, Auckland – Henry Oliver
When I lived in Auckland’s Eastern Suburbs, my favourite shop to visit on a Saturday morning was Martha’s Backyard, the “American Store” in the middle of a Mt Wellington strip mall. I went there to buy bottles of hot sauce and corn tortillas (usually made in Mexico and not the United States, so I guess they mean “American” in the continental sense), and browse (not buy) the chocolate bars, candies and soda.
But to get to the Mexican corner, I’d walk past patriotic clothes pegs, Texas-sized bottles of laundry detergent, and 24-packs of toilet paper. I understand a certain nostalgia for the fresh-laundry smell of your childhood, I’d think, but who the fuck is so homesick they miss toilet paper?
Henry Oliver is the Spinoff Music editor
Death Ray Records, Wellington – Emily Writes
Death Ray is like a little Real Groovy but not pretentious. Owner/operator Apa is the best. He’s a huge supporter of New Zealand music and he knows everything there is to know about everything. Death Ray is the best place to chill and talk about anything and everything. There are awesome tee shirts and posters as well as all the best records and there are often very cool gigs. Apa and his wife Gem are huge supporters of the community and creative arts. It’s the best part of Newtown.
Emily Writes is the Spinoff Parents editor
$3 Recycle Clothes, Christchurch – Alice Webb-Liddall
I lived in Christchurch for two years as a student. The bank account suffered through both years, and while I spent most of my spare time working part-time jobs I still never had the funds to buy brand new never-worn-before clothes. Op shops were the only way I was going to make any change in my wardrobe, and boy, oh boy, did I find a good one. $3 Recycle Clothes warehouse in Ferrymead saved my cold Northland fingertips from the Christchurch winter.
My flatmates both bought suit jackets to wear to the University Ball there, and I stocked up on layers of thermals and ‘cool’ knitted sweaters. The most expensive item would probably be around $20, for some coats and designer clothing, but for the whopping price of $3 you can get just about anything else. It’s got a classic op shop warehouse stale smell, the smell of my tertiary years. $3 Recycle Clothes warehouse is a must when you’re after a unique find, wanna save some money, or just want to try on silly stuff for an hour or so.
Alice Webb-Lidall is The Spinoff’s production intern and podcast supremo
Hikoco, Auckland – Catherine McGregor
Here’s my best skincare tip: avoid the Americans and forget the French, because the future is Korean. These days the cosmetic chemists of South Korea are widely acknowledged to be the best in the business; speaking personally, everything I’ve tried since switching to a near all-Korean regime has been legit. Plus, it’s cheap.
There are shops springing up all over Auckland selling Korean cosmetics and skincare, but Hikoco in Newmarket is my favourite by far. They stock most of the names you’ll read about in reddit.com/r/AsianBeauty (a foundational text for anyone keen to dig into the often confusing K-beauty world), including CosRx, Missha and Mizon, plus cult favourite products like Son & Park Beauty Water, Benton Bee Snail Essence (snail mucin is big in Korean beauty) and Heimish All Clean Balm (just as good as Clinique’s Take the Day Off cleanser, at less than half the price).
More good things: the store is small, so you don’t get overwhelmed by choice; the staff are happy to answer all your confused questions about the difference between a ‘first treatment essence’ and a ‘skin’ (spoiler: they’re basically the same thing); and there’s a loyalty scheme to reward, and feed, your nascent K-beauty addiction.
Catherine McGregor is The Spinoff’s deputy editor
Buana Satu, Auckland – Leonie Hayden
Buana Satu on K’ Rd in Auckland was the number one place to buy gifts when I was at high school in the ‘90s – love beads and toe rings completed the de rigeur ‘homeless Haight Ashbury’ look and could be snapped up for a couple of bucks. Untouched by the ravages of time and fashionability, you can still rely on them for amazing jewelry in dainty silver, chunky woods or loud costume varieties.
Take a tour of the Pacific through pounamu, tapa, bone, mother of pearl and coconut shell. I care way too much about my stuff not looking just like everyone else’s so cushions, throws and mats in unique, hand-woven materials are a nice point of difference to mass-produced ‘on trend’ fabrics (I love Trade Aid for this too, although the Citta outlet stores also rank high on my list of most-visited stores because I’m a homeware nerd). Scarves in vivid hand-dyed silks and ceramics from all corners of the world, weird and wonderful musical instruments. At 37, as at 15, I can still spend a satisfied hour creeping around the store just running my hands over things.
Leonie Hayden is the editor of Spinoff Ātea
V1 Vegan, Wellington – Emily Writes
V1 is run by the lovely Manda and Russell. It’s the best shop that sells not just cruelty-free food but also kids stuff (like crayon rocks!!) and gorgeous books as well (for example: The ABCs of Being Kind is gorgeous). They’re my go-to place for organising gift boxes for friends. Manda and Russell go out of their way to help – they’ve pulled together bags of goodies for sick friends and their website is really great as well. They also have really lovely beauty products and Tattoo Tonic. I especially love their lollies though and their ice blocks and their Italian custard filled pastries. Trust me, it’s the best.
$2 & More Mart, Auckland – Rebecca Stevenson
I don’t want to spend a lot of money but I also want a lot of stuff. The $2 & More Mart off Dominion Road not only lets me do that, the people are also chill and nice about kids tearing the place apart and it’s next to a supermarket, Subway, bakery, chemist and even a freaking optometrist.
This place has everything. Inflatables, marbles, doilies, dress-ups for any tacky dress-up occasion, toys, weird animals, pens, paper, cardboard, craft supplies, tape of myriad thicknesses, fuzzy legs for spiders and wobbly eyes, fart cushions, water pistols, and no, none of it’s sustainable or organic.
You can also take two tired kids there, spend very little on a huge range of tape, doweling sticks, crinkly shiny blue paper and glue and while away a wet afternoon at home in a very pleasant, and constructive fashion. Plus, it’s close to Geoff’s Emporium which is also awesome and even more highly rated by some of us. There’s two connected outlets, Ike’s in Brown’s Bay and Devonport, and two independent Geoff’s Emporiums’ can be found in Henderson and Warkworth.
Rebecca Stevenson is the Spinoff Business editor
Junk & Disorderly, Auckland – Jihee Junn
Junk & Disorderly is like a modern day cabinet of curiosities – a Wunderkammer tucked away on a Northcote side street. It’s a big warehouse inundated with vintage ornaments, kitsch trinkets, and rustic furniture from various bygone eras. It’s an organised kind of chaos inside where piles of books sit perched atop cabinets made of varnished wood, where bicycles hang precariously above disrobed mannequins, and where photo frames, clocks, ladders and lamps cover every inch of the warehouse floor. Some pieces are more high end while others are a dirt cheap bargain, so it pays to spend a good chunk of time trawling through the trash to find some treasure. Basically, it’s the sort of place you have to see to believe.
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Jihee Junn is a staff writer at The Spinoff
Opportunity for Animals, Wellington – Emily Writes
My five-year-old loves op-shopping and Opportunity for Animals Newtown is his favourite. They often have lots of costumes and sometimes have a fill-a-bag option which is the most value for money. At the back they have a section for zines (which I love) and badges (which my sons love). The staff are always great to talk to about protests and activism and ways to support the community.
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The Spinoff’s business section is enabled by our friends at Kiwibank. Kiwibank backs small to medium businesses, social enterprises and Kiwis who innovate to make good things happen.