Today the weather is a bit crazy, stormy one minute with sunshine the next. This morning Maryann Pennington and I sat down in her store, Abundance Art Gallery and had a chat, while we sheltered inside.
Tell us about Abundance Art Gallery
I have lived in Te Atatu Peninsula for nearly 35 years and I’ve wanted to open my own store and gallery for about the last 12 years. I wanted to create something that was different then the large retail stores like The Warehouse offer, I wanted my store to be an experience not just a transaction. I wanted people to remember their experience after leaving the store. So nearly 5 years ago in June 2010, I opened Abundance Art Gallery. The slogan for the gallery is ‘Where Beautiful Things Happen’ and I wanted people to feel beautiful in the store, even if just for a moment, and to hopefully be able to take something beautiful away with them too.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a NZer and I’m loud and proud about that, I love colour. When I was at art school I figured that I wasn’t a minimalist, I always had so much going on and I loved anything that shined and vibrant colour. I actually have some pieces of my own in the gallery but I don’t like to say which pieces they are to customers as it can end up being a bit awkward if my pieces aren’t to their tastes so I stay quiet.
I thought it was really good to have something positive to hold on to during the day so I decided to write messages on the street facing wall of the gallery. I just want people to be lifted even for a little bit, while they waited in traffic or walked by. My favourite message was after the world cup ‘Won by One’, it really made me smile.
What can people expect to find?
You’ll be able to find a few great pieces for lounge or kitchen although you wouldn’t be able to find everything you’re after like a Freedom Furniture store. A lot of the art and items in the gallery are locally made from Te Atatu Peninsula, Te Atatu South. I find artists that I really like and then surround myself with those pieces in the gallery. I’m always on the hunt for something that is a little different and that’s actually really hard because there is some much out there, and competing with the retail giants like The Warehouse or Kmart is tough.
What’s been your greatest challenge?
I went to Art school and got my degree, but I think I got the wrong degree! It should have been a business degree! I never thought owning my own business would be so hard, I thought as soon as I opened the gallery everything would just fall into place but it has been a continual challenge and many times quite stressful. I never thought my dream could turn into a nightmare! But I choose to stay positive.
I have invested everything into the gallery and I’m yet to see a personal return so it’s been a long five years. Each month brings it’s own stresses with accounts that are due and even though this is my passion I’m feeling quite worn out and need a holiday. My dream would be to have someone in the store for me so I could continue with my artwork and also to put a massive opening in the far wall to open it out to a gallery space and a cafe out back. I’m still dreaming about those possibilities. I have huge respect for business owners now.
Another challenge has been support from the local community, you could ask quite a few people where the gallery is and they wouldn’t know, but I’m grateful for those who do.
Who comes to the gallery?
I have my regular customers which I am so thankful for. A lot of my customers come from North Shore or live overseas and have family in Te Atatu Peninsula and they frequent the gallery which is special. I also have a lot of Kiwi ex-pats who want to take a bit of NZ home with them.
The most items we sell are priced between $20 – $45. I’m really grateful for every sale that I have, and when I make a sale for over $100 it’s amazing, it really gives me a thrill.
Maryann’s dream has always been Abundance, an abundance of hope and heart for everyone that she comes into contact with.
Mother’s Day is coming up, so if you’re looking for a unique and creative gift, head down and see Maryann. Abundance Art Gallery will probably have the solution to your gift needs not just for Mother’s Day but year round.
Mother’s Day Competition!
It’s easy to be in to win this amazing and very unique tea set to celebrate Mother’s Day this year. Just make the comment ‘Mother’s Day’ on our blogoutwest Facebook page under this article and we will have you in the draw, the winner will be drawn by Maryann at ABA this Saturday and we will let you know on Facebook ASAP!