Spirit Magazine’s Niamh McCarthy takes a tour around Gem’s Emporium, Methvens’ latest upcycling and vintage furniture shop

Vintage aficionados and mother daughter combo Shirley and Gemma O’Shea recently opened a new shop located at their property in Methven, specialising in upcycled furniture, vintage and one-off pieces. Mum, Shirley confesses that the entire family has a passion for classic cars, upcycling and vintage memorabilia. The family have three restored Chevys and Gemma herself has a collection of at least thirty coats. “It definitely runs in the family!”

The store is also a great way for Gemma to meet and interact with local customers as well as pursue her interest in upcycling. Gemma was born with Charge Association Syndrome which means a mainstream job isn’t easy for her, however now that she has finished schooling the O’Sheas’ feel it’s important for her to continue socialising with people and also learn the value of working and following your passions. The Emporium is a great way to achieve this. “Gemma enjoys seeing the different faces come in and can give you a tour of the shop, and she’s also happy to take your money,” Shirley jokes.

The items on offer at Gem’s Emporium come from a variety of places.  Shirley buys one-off pieces at auctions or from households having a clear-out. Gemma enjoys helping out with the upcycling and often chooses the colours and paints the furniture, “Gem is super organised, and she can be very bossy.”  Shirley has recently completed an upholstery course and often uses Pinterest as inspiration for her one-off pieces.

There is an amazing range of eclectic items on display; old fashioned milk bottles, delicate china and glassware that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Downton Abbey. Furniture offerings include upcycled bedside tables, old armoires and some beautiful re-upholstered vintage storage chests. Vintage clothing is also available, and everything is in amazing condition. Shirley admits that both Gemma her sister Sommer are always keen to examine the new clothing pieces before they go up for sale. “They are always keen to add to their own collections!”

Despite the beauty and craftmanship of many of the pieces, everything is very reasonably priced which Shirley explains is intentional. “We keep things at a fair price and that way things roll quicker. It’s not our intention to make a heap of money from the shop, we just want Gemma to keep up her social interaction.”

The store was built by Shirley’s husband Jim and the property itself is well worth a visit. As well as the store Jim has built several old-style huts which he displays around South Island car shows. There’s a bar, a barber shop and even a jail – all of which make fantastic photo backdrops in a very vintage setting.

Gem’s Emporium is located at 2939 Methven Highway and open every Saturday and Sunday from 11-4 and there’s also a Facebook page with info on the latest items in stock.

Previous articleLinda’s 1956 Morris Minor Pickup
Next articleWOW Weddings
Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.