WORDS BY YASMIN GOWER AND CAIT EMMA BURKE
“It feels like every week there’s something new popping up all over the city. Post-earthquakes, it feels like a place full of opportunities.”
Nestled in the heart of Christchurch, Nifty is more than just a consignment store – it’s a vibrant testament to the power of sustainable fashion and community spirit.
After Christchurch’s devastating earthquake in 2011, many of the city’s secondhand stores closed their doors permanently. Seeing a chance to create something that would benefit Christchurch’s creative community, Founder Rosie Carroll launched The Nifty Markets in 2018 as a way for young people to connect and access quality secondhand fashion.
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In 2022, these monthly markets evolved into a real-life consignment store called Nifty. Nifty’s eye-catching baby pink brick-and-mortar exterior is hard to miss, and the store embodies the warm and inclusive community Rosie has spent the last six years cultivating. Below, she shares the journey of bringing the store to life.
Tell me a bit about how the vision for Nifty came about.
I started The Nifty Markets as a monthly market in 2018. My focus for the market was to provide a place where clothing lovers could shop sustainably, and meet like-minded people. After the earthquakes, the city was going through a rebuild (and still somewhat is). I felt there was a lack of secondhand clothing stores, and I saw fast fashion giants opening mega-sized stores in the city. I felt really strongly about going against that and wanted to provide an avenue for young people to shop secondhand.
I grew up in Ōtautahi (Christchurch) and went to school in the centre city, so I was lucky to have a lot of options at my doorstep as a young person. I think there’s something really special about being able to explore your tastes as a young person by visiting all the unique small businesses a city has to offer. The owners and sales assistants in those stores (places like Hunters and Collectors, The Vault, etc) were my heroes as a teenager!
As a 14-year-old who was a little bit awkward and exclusively wore graphic tees from Jay Jays, they were kind of gods to us; their incredible style and confidence were cool to be around. Unfortunately, after the earthquakes, we lost a lot of those businesses and were left largely with just a few shopping malls, which I just didn’t feel provided our rangatahi with enough of an avenue to explore themselves and their style.
After a trip to the Glebe Markets in Sydney, I felt that a market for young people and people who loved secondhand clothing was a missing piece for Ōtautahi, and starting my own market became my dream! [After] four years of working full-time and running the markets I opened Nifty as a consignment store in 2022, where we also run the markets out of every couple of months.
How would you describe the store’s aesthetic?
Warm. I aspire for the store to always feel warm, welcoming and full of colour. I chose baby pink for the exterior of the building because I love pink, but also I love LA and all the colourful buildings there. In terms of clothing, we aspire to accept quality pieces that we think will last the distance for the next person, and are fun or interesting to look at.
What was the process like putting the store together and were there any challenges or roadblocks along the way?
It was intense! I am lucky to have an endlessly supportive partner who took a bunch of his annual leave just to help me set it all up. Friends and family also chipped in – it takes a village! I wrestled with staying true to my vision, but also accepting that not everything would be perfect. I had to do the best I could with the resources I had.
Sometimes there will be things you have to compromise on (which is not easy to come to terms with as a Virgo, wanting it all to be perfect from the get-go). I was finishing up work at my previous job as a social media coordinator while setting up the store, which made the days feel really long. There were definitely a few breakdowns along the way but it was so worth it.
Who did you collaborate with when bringing the store to life?
Local sellers! We invited people who had sold at our previous markets (mostly our regulars) to see if they wanted to put their clothing into the store to start us off until we built a name as a consignment store. It was really lovely to include them in the beginning process, and some of them still stock with us today!
My first employee, Bailey, was an incredible support during the set-up. I was used to running Nifty alone and having endless conversations with myself. Now, I had someone to lean on, who could also share her ideas and perspectives with me. It was really cool that Nifty was actually forming as a team of people.
What’s your favourite feature/area of the store?
Our store counter! I found it on Facebook Marketplace for $200 and my partner gave it a new life, we added some texture and painted it pink. It was great to be able to source a lot of our shop fittings secondhand, like our clothing racks. In the beginning, we got a few clothing racks gifted to us from a retail store I used to work at. I happened to be walking past, seeing they were packing up, and I asked if I could buy them and they gave them to us! It shows it pays to ask!
What do you like about the area/the Christchurch creative scene in general?
The scene is forever adapting, and showing up in places you least expect it. It feels like every week there’s something new popping up all over the city. Post-earthquakes, it feels like a place full of opportunities. I think it’s partly because we went so long without much happening here, so it feels like the community is very supportive and welcoming of new things happening. It’s like a collective feeling of encouragement and support like we are all wanting to see the city, businesses and people thrive.
You can keep up with Nifty here.