Coffee and kitsch collide

New cafe is "big person's play pen"

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 07:52 28/08/2012
Retrotonic
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

KITSCH AND KABOODLE: William and Anne Marie Cleaver in their Retrotonic store near the clock tower in Motueka, where they have a retro boutique and coffee roastery.

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When you walk into Resurgence Coffee Roasters and Retrotonic for a long black, you might walk out wearing a pair of vintage tartan brothel creepers, a bespoke 1950s frock made out of Elvis fabric or carrying a pink space capsule 1970s hair dryer.

Coffee and kitsch collide in the new location for the joint businesses run by husband and wife William and Anne-Marie Cleaver in Motueka. They moved the businesses from Riwaka to a huge space on the corner of High and King Edward Sts in June, giving them offices, warehouse space and a 250 sq metre showroom for Mrs Cleaver's vintage furniture and clothes that she calls "a big person's play pen".

The coffee is served from a vintage caravan relocated from the couple's backyard and if you wish, you can drink it sitting inside a 1966 Ford Anglia, one of four vehicles on the showroom floor.

"For the business to go to the next level we had to move because we had no space there and not enough customers", said Mr Cleaver.

Since the move, the cafe's month-on-month revenue has increased 50 per cent but Mr Cleaver said despite the growth, the business was more about combining the couple's passions than getting rich.

"If we go the whole week without selling something from the shop, it's still a good week. People will come in and go, "my nana has that".

The former head roaster for Hummingbird Coffee moved to Riwaka five years ago seeking a change from an increasingly corporate coffee scene in Christchurch and established his own boutique roastery.

The Retrotonic side of the business is Mrs Cleaver's passion, and her husband said that it got its start when they emptied their Riwaka house of vintage goods and put them on display to complement the coffee.

"Coffee has become a style thing - you have your coffee machine in your retro kitchen with your Scandinavian chairs," said Mr Cleaver.

Mrs Cleaver grew up as the youngest in a family of nine, and she said she destined to love the second-hand trade.

"Mum brought us up shopping in secondhand shops. And when I was a single mum, I had to buy things that would last."

Her first foray into trading vintage goods came via Trade Me. "I bought a foot-tall Sonic the Hedgehog statue from the Salvation Army in Petone and put it on Trade Me. It sold for $65 and that shocked me."

Now she spends about four hours a day scanning Trade Me and researching vintage items online.

Her eye for vintage chic has produced an eclectic showroom of items from the 1950s to the 1970s that attracts locals and tourists alike. Mr Cleaver said he was told that 16,000 vehicles a day pass their site, on the intersection of the roads from Nelson and the West Coast.

He sells his coffee in New World Motueka and at Fresh Choices in Collingwood St and Takaka as well as to cafes around the region and beyond.

A recent order from a tourist who was on leave from the U.S. Marines based in Kuwait saw Mr Cleaver sending 4kg to the marine's partner in Minnesota.

The couple's ambition spreads even wider. They are fans of the London's Ace Cafe, an epicentre of 1960s mods and rockers culture that has been reborn as a mash-up of classic vehicles and cafe culture. The Cleavers hope to host groups of classic car fans and would like to feature more vehicles as well as store them in the warehouse space behind the showroom.

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They would love to find some vintage Vespa scooters to display but even if you don't own one, Mrs Cleaver will be able to find you an outfit that makes you look as if you do.

- Nelson

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