Nicole’s place

Nicole Smith wants “a place for things” in Smithton, depending on the community’s needs. Picture: Jelena Potpara.

Shop. Emmett Street’s newest business – {noun} a place for things – is one with a sentimental twist.

Owner Nicole Smith will open the doors this week, ready to share with the community items she holds close to her heart.

“It’s not about the fit out, but to me they all mean something,” Nicole said.

Ladders that once belonged to her dad, uncle and brother-in-law act as furniture, her grandmother’s chest of drawers is the perfect place to sit jewellery, and her great-grandfather’s wooden chair welcomes all those who enter.

To add to the vintage feel, old children’s books line shelves and items from her dad’s shed are perched on top of benches.

Filling the gaps are items for sale – shoes, sleepwear, lingerie and gifts.

’Noun’ came up during a search for a name that reflected the shop’s broad range, according to Nicole.

“As I see things in the town that we need, I want to be able to add to the stock . . . so that people can shop locally,” she said.

Nicole’s retail career began in 1992, spending seven years at Ambrose’s followed by 13 at Popowski Plant Growers, before stints in the newspaper and photography industries more recently.

When Nicole married in 2013, she and husband Nick spent months travelling Tasmania; all the while dreaming of that little shoe shop that was on the market.

“I needed the last 12 months to find myself, discover who I am,” she said. “I’m someone who needs to be around people . . . I’ve been in retail since I left school. I’ve loved that you have your regulars that come in.”

Earlier this year, feeling desperate about finding a job she loved, she walked into the shoe shop and made an offer.

“In the morning I was crying because I was lost, by the afternoon I was so excited because I’d decided I was going to buy a business.”

Admitting at times it was an overwhelming thought, the mother-of-three said the idea “just evolved”.

“So many little towns out there that are struggling, [compared to them] Smithton’s got a lot going for it. If we don’t have faith in our town, then it’s not going to go anywhere,” she said.

“When I worked at Ambrose’s, there were enough shops in town that you could come to town all day, wandered around the shops and had lunch, made a day of it.

“We’ve shrunk right back and we haven’t got that anymore. Unless we have things open, we’re not going to gain.”

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