Last Saturday, Teddy and I took up our positions in our new favourite shop. Teddy did some discreet promotional work, modelling a conker brown Better Dog Collar and Better Rope Lead, while I happily stood by a Tales of Teddy window display, hoping to meet some chatty, interested customers.
We had been invited to make our New Zealand debut with an in-store pop-up of Tales of Teddy goods at Passion for Paper, a very smart stationery shop that’s the kind of place I love to discover when I go abroad. This treasure trove has been established in Parnell for over twenty years. Inspired by a love of the best Italian stationery, proprietor Kim Helas has woven a theme throughout that combines quality, charm and more than a hint of old-world style. Beautiful wrapping papers hang from wooden ladders on the walls, overlapping like decadent wallpaper. Sealing wax, rubber stamps and notebooks are tucked alongside letterpress cards with delicate raw edges, book plates, gift tags, quills, nibs and inks – it’s a stationery dream! And then there’s the cabinet full of my all-time favourite scented goods from Santa Maria Novella, the Florentine brand that I used to buy in Piccadilly, London, which I can now find on my doorstep in Auckland.
So, Passion for Paper has all of the above along with the added bonus that Kim is an avid dog-lover. Which is where our pop-up comes in. Whenever I’m in her store we talk dogs. Kim has Sky, a rescue from the SPCA, whom she adores. To help benefit a worthy charity and to celebrate Chinese Year of the Dog, Kim invited Tales of Teddy to debut at Passion for Paper (goods will be available until Sunday 4th March and Teddy and I are set to visit each Saturday until then), giving a percentage of profits to the SPCA.
During his day on the shop floor, Ted received much admiration and settled into his ambassadorial role like a duck to water (or rather, like a dog to a rug – he simply lay down and turned on the soulful-eye routine when he fancied an extra pat). I got what I’d hoped for: I met lots of interested customers and talked to lots of interesting people. Our first sale of this British brand was to a British couple living here, who fancied a conker Better Dog Collar for their Wheaten Terrier – I think it reminded them of home. I talked with a Funeral Director (“My friends hate my job!”) on her way to the Queen concert who had her eye on the Better Rope Lead for the Schnoodle that she wants to get this year. But perhaps my favourite conversation of the day was with a woman admiring one of the Better Dog Blankets. “Do you have a dog?” I asked. “No,” she said, from beneath her fringe. Then she fixed me with a look: “But I never met a chicken I didn’t like.” She whipped out her cell phone and proceeded to take me on a photographic tour of her glass chicken collection. A day well spent. I’m already looking forward to tomorrow.