From treehouse to desktop

Nicci Baxter outside the Treehouse Gallery in Gate Pa. Photo: Daniel Hines.

I’ve driven past the Treehouse Gallery on Cameron Rd many times and wondered how it was faring as New Zealand transitioned out of lockdown.

Business owners across the bay have had to quickly adapt and embrace what it meant to be open and to operate again. Some refer to it as ‘the new normal’. Others feel like nothing will ever be normal about it again, so the future is there for defining and taking in  fresh ways.

The Treehouse Gallery in Gate Pa which closed about five years ago on Cameron Rd, reopened in June 2019 with co-owners Debbie Allen and Nicci Baxter joining forces to bring an appealing range to Tauranga buyers.

Usually hundreds of cars pass by the shop daily, which is nestled next to a computer business and a rug shop.

“I was in horticulture for about 15 to 20 years, trained in floriculture and horticulture, and had my own gardening business in Hamilton,” says Nicci who relocated to Tauranga about 20 years ago.

“I’ve had to give up my gardening and landscaping career last year because of chronic pain, so I’ve had to rethink about what I can do as a career. This opportunity with Debbie came up.”

Debbie had run the shop previously and has an established clientele.

Renowned for the rustic metal and wood pieces created from recycled materials, the gallery is also popular with people looking for one-of-a-kind items such as small tables, bird boxes, and frames.

Debbie works with clients to meet their particular needs, and the pair make and sell bespoke furniture, furnishings and art.

Nicci has been involved with the Incubator group of artists for some time, and is still involved helping with gigs at The Jam Factory.

“I was doing back-up singing in a band and hoping to get back into some music eventually. I really love being part of the Jam Factory. Here at The Treehouse Gallery I’m doing art, photography as well as upcycling furniture.”

She’s looking forward to making more creative pieces, and during the lockdown period has been focusing on building a stronger social media presence for the gallery.

“The best way of keeping everyone safe during Covid 19 is by trading online,”  says Nicci.

“We have virtual tours of the shop, and sell through Facebook buy, sell and swap pages, with contactless delivery or pickup.”

Debbie has also made the best of the opportunity while the gallery has been physically closed, to work from home, making more stock to replenish the shop now that it’s open once again.

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