'A collection of cool from near and far' – that's the tagline of new online store The Collectors, which curates quirky objects from shower speakers to sunglasses.
Started up this year by advertising/marketing guy Ben Partington and a group of like-minded friends, The Collectors is already eyeing up Australia. Partington says they're all "keen shoppers and collectors of cool things" who wanted to give Kiwis better access to funky items.
"We saw a bit of a gap between some of the cool stuff available overseas and what New Zealanders were able to source here. A lot of the stuff you can get out there on Amazon etc doesn't ship to New Zealand," he says.
Their flagship product is the rather nifty Cacoon hanging chair, which they have exclusive rights to sell in New Zealand. Partington taps the Cookoo watch as another feather in the cap – "A lot of people seem to be talking about smart watches around the world so we tracked down one of those for the site".
He acknowledges other sites will stock some of the same products, such as cameras. The challenge then is to source truly unique niche products wherever possible and remain price competitive.
"The aim of the game is to try not to compete on too many products with some of the big guys - obviously they have access to far better margins than we do."
Sourcing product really is as simple as cruising the web, finding cool brands and tracking down the people behind them. No emails - a chat on the phone, whenever possible, is always preferable, Partington says.
"We're all passionate about finding new products," he says. "We all have a massive repertoire of stuff we'd buy if we had the money."
What they look for is young, fresh, different. Often that means indies without much budget for promotion who appreciate a boost.
"It's nice to help local designers and like minded people from New Zealand to broaden their reach."
As for marketing, social media is going to be their bread and butter when it comes to attracting discerning consumers.
"Companies like Facebook have made it relatively cost effective to reach really broad audiences but also target specific demographic groups. That works out perfect for us. Our range of products - some of them will appeal to some demographic groups and some others will be interesting to others. it gives us the ability to put the right stuff in front of the right people."
Partington says some ambient marketing may also be in order. Imagine a Cacoon chair or two hanging in a bar or a public space where people can take a load off – and of course emblazoned with the Collectors name and label.
They've been careful to craft a brand they could take overseas, and through Shopify technology can easily sell globally.
While reception in New Zealand has been positive, he says Aussies may be a little more cynical, so they'll test the waters with a Facebook campaign.
"We're still developing the brand as we go - every couple of days we change our minds about something," he laughs.
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