Warkworth Menswear

Matt Henderson and Jane Bittman

A tortuous commute to Glenfield to work in an optical lens manufacturing laboratory finally got to Warkworth resident Matt Henderson.

One day he phoned his partner Jane Bittman with a simple message: “Get me out of here.”

That call got Jane thinking. She knew Warkworth Menswear at 18 Queen Street was up for sale. Could taking on the shop be the couple’s next adventure?

They decided to take a look one Saturday afternoon. They spent three hours and were impressed by the regular flow of customers popping in for a chat and the pleasant, relaxed and friendly environment.
It reminded Matt of when he worked in a busy music store about 20 years ago.

“In the optical lab there was no interaction with the public, and I was suddenly reminded of what I had been missing,” he says.

Despite the fact neither Matt nor Jane had any previous retail clothing experience, they were encouraged by the fact that the previous owners, Ken and Kathy Woodcock, were also newbies when they started, but this had not hindered them from running a successful business, with an extremely loyal customer base.

Jane says those customers come from as far away as Mangawhai and Whangarei, drawn by the shop’s personal service.

“People appreciate it when someone says, ‘Hi, what are you looking for? And can offer advice on the right shirt or pair of shorts.’ It’s not like an impersonal mall,” she says.

“Having a good range also attracts customers. Whether you are going to a wedding, out to the beach, throwing a barbecue, attending a formal dinner or informal function, Warkworth Menswear has the right clothes for you.”

The shop’s previous success means Matt and Jane have no plans for radical changes and have retained staff Sheree Stables and Pauline Rauner, who are well known to regulars.

“We wanted it to be a nice smooth transition. We owe it to our supportive community,” Matt says. 


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