Welcome to the Hunter’s new gourmet produce and homewares store.
With lots of little specialty stores, there’s plenty to love about the Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village and just recently, we’ve come across another gem. It’s The Store Pokolbin – the new kid on the Village block offering everything from farm-fresh groceries and chef-prepared take-home meals to delicious coffee brews, gifts and homewares.
Walk into The Store Pokolbin (formerly known as ‘Ye Old General Store’) and you’ll likely be greeted with a familiar face… or two. Now leased by Jo and Caitlin Wilson from the Village’s popular clothing boutique, Wilson & Hunter, The Store may be new to the Gardens but as I quickly discovered, it’s far from General.
Seeing a gap in the market at the time the current premises became available, Jo, whose been retailing in the Hunter Valley Gardens for 18 years, had the vision to open a gourmet grocery store. It was as opportunity her and her business partner/daughter Caitlin couldn’t pass up.
“We felt like this could be more than just a convenience store by adding some elements of gourmet products, kitchenwares, homewares and generally make it a bit more of a destination.”
After enjoying one of Caitlin’s flat whites, made with beans from Newie coffee collective, Sprocket Roasters, and cruising the aisles, stocked with all manner of sweet and savoury treats and gifts, I’m inclined to agree.
In addition to Sprocket Roasters beans, The Store sells Baked Uprising breads, Paxton Honey and Binnoire Dairy Cheeses, among other local goodies. They also stock some produce from fire-affected areas and at the moment are selling sweets made by the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company and the British Lolly Shop, both Village stores that are currently closed.
While there are one or two shops in the Valley with similar produce, none really offer the same experience you’ll get at The Store. Take their fresh produce delivery service. The Store’s point of difference is that you can choose exactly what groceries you’d like and if they don’t have it, they’ll source it for you.
This personalised service extends to their deli offering and ‘Fishy Friday’s’ seafood service too, which Jo tells me has been quite popular.
“People are walking in saying ‘that’s the best Barramundi I’ve ever eaten’. Fishy Friday’s has been really well received. Every week we have more people asking how they can order.”
It’s no wonder really. Caitlin drives to the Sydney Fish Markets every Friday, returning with some of the freshest and tastiest seafood produce around. Now if ask me, that’s some good, old-fashioned service!
Just like the grocery orders, you need to ring or text your seafood requests ahead (by 12pm each Thursday). Oh, and they deliver everything free, within 35kms of the shop.
Don’t worry if you’re outside the delivery zone though. The Store also offers contactless pick-up. Just pull up curb-side and your order will be conveniently brought out. If you’re anything like me though and fancy a sticky beak, you’re quite safe to pop inside and check The Store out. With the current restrictions in place, there’s no crowding and plenty of open-space to wander about.
While you’re there, don’t forget to ask about their yummy Ready-Made Meals which are being lovingly prepared by local chefs from Taste of the Country, Feast Catering and the Hunter Valley Pasta Co. They also do cakes, pies, toasties, ruebens, and, on occasion, pizzas if you’re after a quick bite.
“Apart from some of the local restaurants doing beautiful takeaways, there’s no else really around offering casual snacks. That’s what we want to do more of in the future. Quality food, that’s quick and easy.”
I mentioned homewares and gifts before and with Mother’s Day fast approaching, now does seem like the perfect time to pop-in and grab something special for Mum. Really, there’re so many great gift ideas, no matter the occasion.
I’m talking bespoke candles and diffusers, coffee table books, body products, cool tea and cocktail cups, plus a heap of kitchen goodies and décor for the home. They’re also stocking some clothes and accessories from their Wilson & Hunter boutique.
If you're having trouble choosing, you can always go for a gourmet ‘sweet’ or ‘savoury’ gift box personalised to suit a range of budgets. All presents are gift-wrapped and can be delivered too.
So, you see, The Store Pokolbin is definitely one to put on your “must visit” list.
If you can’t make to the Gardens for a while, why not try a home delivery? And… be sure to follow them on Instagram. These ladies have lots of plans including a website and dining-in area out the back (eventually, when restrictions lift) for visitors to enjoy.