Long-time readers of Gippslandia (we’ve been operating for 18 months now - we’re getting on) will likely recognise the name, Tamsin Carvan, as she’s featured in numerous past editions thanks to her passionate support for Gippsland’s food scene (check here & here). Recently, we began hearing whispers on the breeze that Tamsin was collaborating with other champions of Gippsland to launch a new food experience in Korumburra. Eager to separate the rumour wheat from the chaff, we managed to wrangle Tamsin away from the project to enjoy a quick chat.
Tamsin, you're dining experience, Tamsin's Table, is already very much in demand, what has been the catalyst to launch this new project? Who are the team that's involved in the new project? Finally, where do you find the energy?!
Our team consists of myself and the Tamsin's Table crew, Rachel and Karl from Udder and Hoe (who now have stores in Kilcunda and Loch), Mindy, Barney and Jake from the Kilcunda General Store, James and Tom of Lo-Fi Wines, and Sunny from Hana Studio Meeniyan. Kate of Events by Kate is our events coordinator and John of the Bicycle Fitting Store is our landlord and our biggest supporter. Thank you, John!
Everyone involved with the Department Store has previously built their own business from the ground up in a regional area, and that’s not an easy thing, as I'm sure the Gippslandia team can attest. We’re all based in different parts of West and South Gippsland, so we have separate but complementary networks, but most importantly we’re all great friends with a shared ethos and passion for beautiful local food and wine.
Energy... I have no idea! I do believe that you have to be a bit nuts to get things done. Perhaps that explains it!
Why choose Korumburra as your base? Was it the town or the building that wooed you? Both! I’ve always loved this town with its art deco architecture, almost original streetscape, statuesque buildings and a wonderful community. It’s all set into the most beautiful valley surrounded in every direction by green rolling hills—literally surrounded by food production on all sides. Plus my daughter Martha goes to high school here and I could see our lives beginning to be more Korumburra facing.
I’d been looking for a suitable site in Korumburra on and off for a few years, but it was a serendipitous meeting with our landlord, John Kennedy that changed everything. I’d been looking for a small space, but once I saw this building I was smitten. John was passionate about seeing the space filled with local real food, we feel very lucky that he has given us the chance to bring that dream to life.
Can you please provide a brief background on the building?
The building was built in the 1930s and has a long history as an emporium, variety store and department store. One of the loveliest aspects of taking on the building has been all the wonderful childhood memories that long-time locals have shared with us; hiding behind the big old counters, the mechanised pony rides and that meticulous old school customer service. It's really important to us to honour and build on these memories with The Borough Department Store. Hearing these affectionate stories has informed what we'll be doing and how we'll be doing it. And yes, we will have beautiful long counters (wrapped in brass!).
What's the goal of the Borough Dept. Store? Please describe the concept behind the items you're curating?
The opportunity that this building presents us with is to get some of Gippsland's best local produce onto the main shopping street in a prominent location and therefore available every day, all in a unique and beautiful retail setting. We can be a daily shopping point for locals, plus showcase all that Gippsland has to offer to visitors from Melbourne and beyond.
None of the businesses involved with the Department Store could have embarked on this project individually, but by working together and utilising our strengths, it becomes achievable. Every business in the space will be a different 'department' (we’ll have dairy, wine, dry goods, produce, a cafe, cakes and flowers), but we all share the same ethos - supporting local growers and producers, supporting organic and chemical-free, aiming for the highest quality in everything we do.
An explicit goal of our weekly Wednesday market is to support new and emerging food growers in the region, as well as provide an additional selling day for established producers who may already sell via farmers markets or CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Being weekly, we're hoping that it might ultimately become a good reliable supply channel for local chefs.
Finally, please hit us with the 'nitty gritty', when do you open? When can everyone come to check the new store out?
We’ll be open in mid–July, from 7am to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday. Come and say, ‘Hi!’ We’d love to see you.
Stay up-to-date with all of The Borough Department Store news via their Facebook page and Instagram.