This week’s Backchat proved a bit of a duel as Rod caught up with Jamie Park of the Bellingen Kitchen Shop to unveil the guy behind the mask.
Why did a Civil Engineer at Coffs Harbour City Council want to run the best Kitchen Shop in Bellingen?
We always loved shopping in the kitchen shop and when the opportunity came up we just had to have the whole thing. Combine that with a small amount of insanity and you have the answer.
What skills do you bring to the retail industry?
Next question …
Tell me something weird that has happened in the shop?
Weird stuff happens all the time!
It’s quite mind blowing for me, as a civil engineer who has spent all his working life controlling all the inputs and getting predictable outcomes, to come to terms with just how unpredictable life can be. I now have to agree with Libby that coincidences are real and not just because we are taking notice of something in particular.
We often have customers come in to the shop and request an unusual product or something that hasn’t attracted any attention for a long time, and then on the same day at least one other customer, sometimes more, will ask for the same product.
I come home and say ‘More weird stuff has happened today …’
What is your favourite item in the shop?
I love them all! And so does Libby, she has lots of them at home.
What is your bestselling item?
It’s hard to pick just one, but Euroscrubbers would have to be one of our bestselling items. Come in and let me demonstrate just how great they are!
What is your favourite cooking show on TV & why?
We love TV cooking shows, especially Yotam Ottolenghi and Rick Stein, who combine their cooking with travelling in great places. They are both very charming and obviously really committed to what they do.
How do you choose what stock to buy?
We enjoy going to the trade fairs twice a year, Sydney in February and Melbourne in August.
We always look for new and interesting ranges that have intrinsic quality and are good value. As a result, we have a mix of the cookware and cooking tools that you would expect in a kitchen shop, as well interesting ranges of homewares and gifts.
If you stock an item that you can’t sell, do you re-gift it to friends or relatives?
This never happens, but thanks for the suggestion!
Who is your favourite Bellingen Chamber of Commerce committee member?
I may be a bit biased, but the current president seems like a pretty good sort.
Your best memory of childhood was?
Dressing up and playing Zorro in the backyard.
Best university experience?
Getting my degree in engineering which has been my ticket to live and work all over the world, especially London where I met Libby, and has finally brought me to Bellingen. How fortunate am I?
Your best sporting moment was?
20 years of playing squash (does that count as a moment?)
What would you like to be remembered for?
Passing on good values to our four children.
What are you reading right now?
I don’t have a lot of time to devote to reading, so the last books I read were when we went on a cruise to New Zealand 18 months ago – Raymond Chandler’s Trouble is my Business, Mark Tedeschi’s Kidnapped and a Georges Simenon Maigret mystery.
We have another cruise booked in April and will be looking for some good books to take with us – any suggestions?
Zorro Rides Again?
Been there, read that.
What are you listening to right now?
All the music I play in the shop, including Dire Straits, Cat Stephens, Leonard Cohen, the Beatles. Libby says it’s time we got some new music!
What really annoys you?
The best lesson your parents taught you?
My father taught me how to think in puns, which may annoy some members of my family. No names, no pack drill.
The last big belly laugh you had was?
We recently had friends come and stay for the weekend. They love dressing up and they brought a small sample of their large collection of hats and other accessories, which we all tried out during the evening. It was hilarious – but alcohol may have been involved.
What project are you currently working on?
We’re about to start the installation of a new point of sale system which I am anticipating may result in me losing my sense of humour.
How do you relax?
Favourite restaurant in the Bellingen Shire?
We’re so lucky to have such great restaurants and cafes here. I couldn’t pick just one.
The previous career you wish you could forget?
Working in a hotel in Munich in 1974 where I was a cleaner. My job was to vacuum the corridors, only the corridors, of a multi floor hotel. It was quite boring. I often forgot what I was doing and kept going until the cord ran out and the plugs got smashed. Consequently I wasn’t the housekeeper’s favourite member of the team!
What have you learned since you’ve been running the shop
The biggest thing I’ve learnt is how great it is to live and work in Bellingen, and feel truly a part of the community.
In the Movie Jamiegate, who would play you?
Hugh Lawrie. But if he’s not available, then George Clooney.