Neighbours seemingly poles apart, surprisingly similar

David White, left, and Eric Heycoop inside David N. White Gallery - White's store full of "stuff".
JAKE MCKEE CAGNEY

David White, left, and Eric Heycoop inside David N. White Gallery - White's store full of "stuff".

At first glance, you would not expect there to be many similarities between the neighbouring businesses at 88 and 90 Abel Smith St in Wellington.

But once you get to know the occupants, they have much more in common than meets the eye. Eric Heycoop and David White have spent many years as avid collectors.

Heycoop runs his business, Emporio Coffee, out of 90 Abel Smith St and has long been fixated with cars. He began collecting car paraphernalia as a child with matchbox cars sent to him by his grandparents in Holland.

David N. White Gallery began as an art dealer gallery, but soon morphed into its current state.
JAKE MCKEE CAGNEY

David N. White Gallery began as an art dealer gallery, but soon morphed into its current state.

This eventually developed into also collecting street signs, tinkering with real cars and other paraphernalia. He would like to have more real cars – "but that's just life", he laughs.

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The first car he fixed up was a 1967 MG. It spawned years of car racing for Heycoop – only stepping away from it four years ago, letting the MG live on, alone, in a Wellington garage he rents.

Heycoop with his favourite Corgi matchbox cars. He's on the search for more.
JAKE McKEE CAGNEY

Heycoop with his favourite Corgi matchbox cars. He's on the search for more.

He is currently on the search for Dinky and Corgi matchbox cars – in the box and in perfect condition – to add to his collection, recollecting the ones he remembers having as a boy.

Heycoops thinks that almost everyone has a collection of something even if they don't think of themselves as a collector. He sees it as a "getaway method" to something positive.

When not fixated on cars, Heycoop's attention turns to coffee. He owned Arabica Cafe in Grey St with wife Miriam before setting up Emporio Coffee in 2000. Emporio Coffee meant he could roast his own coffee.

Eric Heycoop has been collecting cars since he was a young boy. Some of his collection is on display in his home.
JAKE McKEE CAGNEY

Eric Heycoop has been collecting cars since he was a young boy. Some of his collection is on display in his home.

Heycoop is a hands-on man: a life of tinkering with cars and hand-roasting coffee.

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White is the same, but different.

While Heycoop keeps his collection at home, White's in his store. He has been a salesman of "stuff" for a similar amount of time as Heycoop has been fixated with cars.

White's journey to becoming a collector of things began in 1971 in a joint business venture with Prince Rupert Kurghan, formerly Dave McLatchie.

This was in the form of The Merchant Adventurers of Narnia, aptly named after the pair's adoration of C.S. Lewis's fantasy novel series.

The Merchant Adventurers of Narnia was well known during its time for its flamboyant hippy vibe – from selling clothing and fabrics through to incense and smoking paraphernalia.

White says it was the first store of its kind in Wellington and "surprisingly successful".

He left Narnia after 14 years and then opened his current David N. White Gallery in 1990.

With the gallery, he does not advertise, stock just comes to him.

White says a spring clean of the store last year removed 6.5 tonnes of stock. He says it was easy to choose what to get rid of – looking at an item, deciding yes or no, and not looking back.

He always wanted to do something in the way of an art dealer gallery. After not too long he grew to be not fussed and moved away from running a dealer gallery.

"It just turned into stuff." And stuff it continues to be.

But he did not change the name of the store because he already had the business cards printed.

He just went along with it. "It was easier." 

 - Stuff

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