New shops have opened in Raglan during the summer break, adding to the vibrancy of the town centre.

There are two new shops – a bakery and a dressmaker’s – in Bankart St; two new pop-up shops in the building that’s still known, by locals, as Vinnie’s, in Wainui Rd; and a shoe shop in Bow St, where Frocking Gorgeous once was.

Alessandro Miraglia, who used to work as a chef at the Harbour View Hotel for three years, opened Dolci, based on European-style baking, on January 1, next door to Cyclery Raglan.

“I am a baker so I have come back to do what I really like to do,” he says.

Alessandro, moved to Raglan with his partner, Valentina Piggoza, about five years ago and  makes pastries, breads and pizzas, and will make birthday and wedding cakes to order.

His shop is open from about 6.30am-7am, seven days a week.

He says he had been looking for a place to open his bakery for some time, and being on Bankart St is “very affordable”.

So are his loaves of bread, at $4 a pop.

Baking bread is just flour, yeast and water, he says. “You need to do it properly, with some love, if you want people to buy it.”

Next door to him, dressmaker Dominique Lecourtois is starting to get up and running with her new shop, called Lecourtois Couture, and plans to be open from Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 10am to 4pm.

Dominique, who is from Montreal and has lived in Raglan for 11 years, says she had been working from home for a while, and she makes “wedding dresses, merino lounge wear … anything really”.

“I also sell very good skin cream, locally made, and prints from a local photographer, as well.”

She also plans to sell jewellery and leather goods.

In Bow St, Mikala Walshe has opened her third Mavis & Mick shoe shop, selling high-end European shoes.

Mikala lives in Te Awamutu, where she has one of her shops – the other is in Waihi Beach.

“I love everything about shoes. I am all about colour, comfort and size range,” says Mikala, who herself sports a colourful and funky hairstyle, in pink and white.

Mikala has had a colourful career, too, including working as an air hostess, for clothing designer Annah Stretton, and being a sharemilker with 200 cows. She says living overseas, in Italy and Spain, is where she got her passion for shoes.

In her shop, “everything is from Europe, everything is leather, and everything is amazing on the foot”.

For local customers, Mikala says she will do a deal, where customers can pay half of the price now, and walk out the door with the shoes, and then “drip feed me”.

That’s because, she says, “someone might come in the door and really like those Laura Bellarivas for $410 but they might not have $410 right now”. She doesn’t want to begrudge anyone an awesome pair of shoes!

Mavis & Mick started up in the old office of Bow Street Motors just before Christmas and moved to its new premises nearly two weeks ago. Mikala plans to be open every day, from 10am to 5pm.

“It’s a low-key shop but high end.”

Around the corner in Wainui Rd, Denise Fort has set up her new studio in part of the old Vinnie’s building, moving in just before Christmas.

“It’s a beautiful space, and it has these beautiful French doors,” says Denise, who has a lease for one year.

She says there has been more foot traffic into her shop than at her old space behind Frocking Gorgeous.

“It was super busy (over Christmas), and it’s difficult working every day. You have to stick it out. I’m looking forward to a bit of a break, but then there will come again a time when you ask: Where are the people?”

Next door, Channelle Ruawai is selling vintage clothing in pop-up shop 2nd Life VTG.

Channelle, who also sells her clothes online, says she has the space for only a short time. Her father, Brian Ruawai, had leased the building as his office for running the Soundsplash festival but only uses the upstairs area.

She says her time in the pop-up shop will probably end next month.

“I want to find another space if I can. The shop is really great for the young people.”

Meanwhile, the new Turkish restaurant in Bow St is still waiting sign-off from the Waikato District Council, but will be open soon.

Inger Vos