Gift store opening marks a new chapter

JESSY EDWARDS
Last updated 07:17 13/08/2014
sommerfields
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

DREAM COME TRUE: Beatrice Parsons, left, her brother Julian and Phil Saxby celebrate the opening of Sommerfields gift store in the old Parsons Books & Music shop.

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Champagne corks were popped just five months ago on the mezzanine floor of Massey House, Lambton Quay, as the well-known Parsons bookstore closed after 56 years of service to Wellington bookworms and music lovers.

But on Friday, the Champagne flutes were clinking again, this time celebrating the opening of Sommerfields gift store in the same space.

The architect-designed shop has seen a revival of sorts - a lick of sky blue paint, the removal of the lower dividing wall, and renovation of the upstairs kitchen, with toilets in construction.

Parsons' owners Beatrice and Julian Parsons were there to toast Sommerfields' success, with Parsons saying he was thrilled that a small local business was moving into the shop.

"We are pleased that this beautiful space is being refurbished and is again to be used by an independent, owner- operated retailer. Sommerfields will shine on Lambton Quay."

Sommerfields owner Phil Saxby is reopening the shop's cafe, and has named it The Parsonage, a tribute to the bookstore that had such a strong hold on Wellington book and music lovers' hearts.

Viennese architect Ernst Plischke designed the shop 56 years ago for his friend Roy Parsons, Julian and Beatrice's father.

After opening in 1958, the store was passed down the family, and the younger Parsons pair ran it until March this year when rising rent and challenging times for book and music retailers forced them to shut up shop for good.

Saxby was well aware of the shop's history, and said it felt like a dream come true to be moving into the space. Helen Brice, who ran the Parsons cafe for seven years, is returning to run The Parsonage.

Die-hard Parsons fans may just be able to go back in time if they close their eyes, as Julian Parsons is making Saxby a mixtape.

"Julian might be looking after some of our music for us, because that was a big part of it," Brice said.

Sommerfields is now open at 126 Lambton Quay. The Parsonage is due to open on October 3.

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- The Dominion Post

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