Market stall transformed into treasure trove

OPEN SHOP: Steve Lawson of Fernleigh Tools and Collectables in Tahunanui.
OPEN SHOP: Steve Lawson of Fernleigh Tools and Collectables in Tahunanui.

Sunday market regular Steven Lawson has opened a new shop to house "his secret treasures" on Tahunanui Drive.

It has been 20 years in the making but the licensed secondhand dealer is finally living his dream with his shop, Fernleigh Tools & Collectibles, that opened last week.

His love of collecting started in Christchurch, when he purchased a house and the previous owner left a number of boxes full of books.

When the owner said he was going to simply dump them at a local secondhand shop, Mr Lawson offered to buy them.

He soon realised that some of the books were valuable.

It was perfect timing because the carpenter suffered a back injury and it was time for a change in career.

From there he sold his books at the Riccarton markets along with his old tools and before he knew it, he was thrown into the business.

"I love the people aspect of selling things at markets. It is those interactions with people that gives you a buzz and lifts you up."

When his family decided to move up to Nelson, he brought his love of collecting secret treasures with him.

After seven years of selling things on Trademe and selling items at the Sunday Market he found he was finally ready to get away from being a slave to the Sunday market weather and set up shop.

"When you are trying to sell things over a period of 14 weeks and nine and a half of those weeks are rained out, it starts to make a dent on your income.

"But I've never been concerned about making an income. I have always pottered around with this stuff."

But while passion was his focus, he had some successes in the past, including finding a brass 200-year-old dog collar for pennies and selling it for about $1500.

He personally loved collecting miniature tools that would be fully functional and traditionally crafted by violin makers.

He found there was not a market for good quality tools anymore with the influx of cheaper tools coming into the country.

"We have a society where we just throw things away.

"You can't get the workmanship you once could anymore, but it is impossible to sell these good quality products because they just can't compete fiscally."

Yet, the dealer industry was rife and very competitive.

"You might be having a great chat with someone at a market and then they will push you to get out of their way so they can get that special thing."

People were always looking for stock, and profitable stock at that, he said.

"You never really know what you might find. It is infectious."