St Kilda Store

It’s a warm, sunny day in the new East Cambridge suburb of St Kilda. The streets and parks are buzzing with families on bikes and scooters, couples walking dogs, and pensioners out for their morning constitutionals.


At the St Kilda Store, sisters Johanna and Eleanor are hard at work and visibly enjoying themselves. The morning sun has brought out the community en masse, and throngs of grateful locals line up to purchase artisanal streaky bacon, locally made scented candles, loaves of fresh sourdough, organic milk, wood-fired pizza kits and, most of all, ice cream.


The ice cream in question is from the Kōwhai Creamery in Matamata. Johanna is kept busy behind their newly installed ice cream bar dispensing tubs and cones to adults and children alike. There is a great selection of flavours including orange chocolate chip, chocolate cake, and vanilla bean. Made with whole jersey milk, the texture is lusciously creamy and the flavours note-perfect.


Eleanor is busy taking orders, collecting items and taking payments. She exudes friendliness as she greets locals by name, helps kids with their handwritten lists on tiny scraps of paper, and even gift-wraps a scented candle made by one of the local St Kilda residents.


What inspired a couple of English sisters to start a gourmet general store in Cambridge?


“I thought I’d retired,” Johanna says wryly, having explained how she had sold her franchise tuition company. “Two weeks later Eleanor invited me for a coffee in town, told me she’d always wanted to own a shop, and invited me to join her. And here we are.”

Both sisters are passionate about high quality, local produce and they work hard to source the most exciting products from around the country.

“We spend a lot of time at farmers markets,” Johanna says with a smile.


In addition to their love of food, there is also a strong community focus to the St Kilda Store.

Eleanor and Johanna both lived in Puhoi, just north of Auckland, and were inspired by the general store that serves that small community. Despite St Kilda being a newly built suburb, there is an old-fashioned feel to the place with kids coming in groups from the largely traffic-free streets and retirees popping in for a chat with Johanna.

They go out of their way to be helpful and accessible to the community,

“We have locals ringing us up at lunch time asking us to get a lasagne out of the freezer so it’ll be ready to cook when they pick it up in the evening.” The store has quickly become part of the daily lives of the St Kilda locals.


Johanna shows me round the shop. She points out products they got in for particular customers and shows off their range of frozen ready meals and meats from local farms. (“We found our customers want no prep and no washing up.”) There are delicious local biscuits, local jams and honeys; olive oil from the Hawke’s Bay; a selection of beautiful ceramics from a maker in nearby Maungatautari; a small range of excellent local cheeses; salad dressings from Auckland and hot sauce from the Coromandel. There is even a range of dog perfumes which, Johanna assures me, sell extremely well.

“We can walk around the shop and say, ‘Oh, that’s from Katherine, she lives on Kaipaki Road. This is from a beautiful citrus orchard in the Coromandel.’ We can talk about the people we’ve met.” St Kilda store connects these wonderful, diverse producers with the local community.


To complement the artisan, small-batch, gourmet selection there is also a cupboard of staples like tinned baked beans, tomato sauce and sugar. Johanna opens a drawer to reveal a small collection of batteries and rolls of Sellotape.

The sisters are eager to respond to what the community wants and make sure their everyday needs are met.

“We have a shopping list. If someone comes in and asks for something we don’t have, it goes on the list.”


The owners of the St Kilda Store do a wonderful job of balancing their passion for gourmet, artisanal, local products with the more day-to-day needs of a small community. Eleanor and Johanna also seem to be having a great time doing it.










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