When I first moved to Tasmania eight years ago I was thrilled and delighted to find the Drill Hall Emporium within walking distance of my ‘new’ heritage home. Being an avid lover of beautiful old objects I was like a kid in the candy store looking at the wonderful array of antiques and collectibles and dreaming about what I would save up to purchase next to add to my own collection. Over the years I have watched the shop continue to grow and develop into the beautiful store it is today.
I recently spoke to co-owner Tammy about her own love of old treasures and the growth of the shop.
Q: I read that you and your sister Donna started getting involved in collecting antiques, and the business, whilst still at High School – what initially sparked your interest?
A: Growing up in country NSW I remember going to country estate sales as a family from which we would bring home bits and pieces with glee. Some of these “treasures” we would improve in some way, others we kept in their more rustic state. Donna’s bedroom was composed of salvaged pieces which we gave a lick of paint and decorative stencil work (it was the 90s after all!). We all slept in iron and brass beds and we grew up helping our parents to renovate one old house after another.
Q: How long has The Drill Hall Emporium been running?
A: The Drill Hall Emporium began as a small market which my two older sisters and I ran. We had our own stall at the market selling vintage pieces along with homemade jams, chutney and Worcestershire sauce (don’t ask!). We were very industrious, my sisters and I. This was 20 years ago! I was around 12 at the time. (I think I just gave my age away).
Q: What has kept your interest in the business?
A: The Drill Hall has changed so much over the time since its humble beginnings. We kept it going through high school, and then through college and finally through university degrees. Donna was a practicing solicitor and I was a pharmacist when my husband and I went on an overseas holiday to Europe.
Wandering the streets of a large French market, wishing I could fit more into my luggage gave me the idea of travelling overseas to buy items for the Drill Hall. Over moules and frites and a glass of bordeaux my husband and I discussed making the Drill Market in to the shop that I had always dreamed about. On the way home from Paris I couldn’t sleep at all on the plane, I was so wired with nervous energy with the plan. When I returned, I sold the idea to my mum and Donna, which involved Donna and I quitting our jobs. This would allow us to put much more time and energy into the Drill Hall. We planned our first buying trip, gave the Drill Hall a makeover and The Drill Hall Emporium was born! Since then, my interest is held in place through my desire to keep improving the shop. Also through travelling and seeing emerging trends in antiques before they hit Australian shores.
Q: Where do you source all your lovely items from?
A: We get asked this question daily. It seems people are fascinated by the mix and the vast quantity of antiques we have. We go near and far for our pieces, literally. Some things we find locally, but to keep the store really interesting we like to travel overseas and bring it home in a big shipment.
Q: Can people contact you if they have goods to sell? Is there anything you are particularly on the look out for?
A: People are very welcome to contact us if they have goods to sell. We are always after the quality and the unusual.
Q: Can you source items for people if they know of a particular brand or item that they are after but have been unable to find it themselves?
A: We are able to source items for people, but generally we will keep a list of people and their wants and let them know if we get such an item into the store. It usually has to be something we would be happy to stock in the store as often people find the item elsewhere in the mean time or change their minds. So it has to be and item we can live with ourselves!
Q: Can you tell readers a little about the range of goods you have at the Drill Hall.
A: We pride ourselves on having items price from 50 cents (a button) through to 5 thousand dollars (a French cherrywood armoire or the like). Everything is vintage or antique, we do not stock reproductions. At all. Reproductions may have their place, just not in our store. We try to keep the range changing and also interesting, for our own sake as well as that of our regular customers. We no longer stock tea cups and saucers, for example, because you can find them in nearly any other antiques store. We still have a few of our favourites available, having said that!
Q: I love the way you display goods in categories or groupings have you found that this helps people to find what they may be after or what was the thought behind that?
A: The main reason for that is because our initial concept was the “emporium” which is the term once used for a store with many articles to choose from. Our interpretation is an olden day department store. So instead of having one or two rolling pins, we have 50!
A: Is there an antique or collectable that you covet yourself?
Q: I have my eye on a piece for furniture in our store at the moment. I won’t say which one as I technically don’t want it to sell (sorry fellow business partners, mum and Donna!). It is just a matter of working out how it will fit in our living room. It is a bit of a beast in terms of size but has such a great look.
Q: What is the most surprising or exciting item you have found and why?
A: Back when we were starting out, Donna and I found an early silver teapot which dated to the 18th century in a shed sale. It had such lovely straight lines and was quite valuable. It was finds like this which kept our adrenalin levels high.
Q: What are you upcoming plans for the business?
A: Well, actually we are planning a new shop in the High Street of New Norfolk in addition to The Drill Hall Emporium. We are keeping the concept secret at the moment, but soon all will be revealed! We are all having trouble sleeping at night as we are so excited, our younger sister Rachel is joining the team with our new venture. The Drill Hall Emporium will continue to develop and introduce new looks to Tasmanian interior lovers.
With so many gorgeous goodies in stock put The Drill Hall Emporium on the list for places to look for your Christmas presents or that special present for anyone hard to buy for or appreciative of beautiful, quirky and unusual objects (you are bound to find all of these inside!) Follow the link or find their details on the Fab-Finds Page.