Tula and Niles has shut up shop after 14 years of business. Photo: Kate Russell.

‘End of an era’ on Nile St

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After 14 years of business, one of Nelson’s “little gems” has closed its doors at 28 Nile St.

Owners of Tula and Niles, Christie Carlson and Larry Rueter, are leaving behind their charming corner of Nelson to start a simpler life in the little West Coast town of Reefton.

Selling vintage clothing, jewelry, accessories and collectables, the restored turn-of-the-century Edwardian villa has been an attraction itself, with its parasole-embellished frontage and colourful gardens.

And although the American couple “never thought they would leave”, their minds were made up after it was announced that the Bett carpark – directly across the road – would be developed into a high-end apartment complex.

Christie and Larry purchased 28 Nile St in 2002 after “falling in love” with Nelson during a trip to New Zealand.

After seeing a ‘for sale’ sign on the house, they snapped it up and decided to live there and open their little shop.

“Before us, the building was saved by a woman named Tula from Dunedin. It had been to auction, but no one wanted it and was set for demolition. ”

“Then we came along and put it on the historic register. It certainly is a piece of Nelson’s history,” says Christie.

Christie says that when the apartment development was given the green light last June, they lost hope.

The four-floor apartment building was approved as one of Nelson City Council’s special housing areas and will include 17 “luxury” residences ranging from one-to-three bedroom units.

“We fought long and hard for that site to be affordable housing. I had always envisaged that space as contemporary colonial-style townhouses for medium income families.”

“But now we are getting these $800k or more ultra-modern apartments that are out of touch with the rest of the street.”

Christie says they decided to buy a “little bach somewhere” that they could escape to, knowing the corner would be a construction site for “some time”.

That’s when they took a drive to the West Coast and discovered Reefton.

They fell in love with a “doer-upper” complete with a huge section and rimu floors which they purchased for just $195k.

“That’s when I thought, I really like it here – let’s sell up. I don’t want to own two houses. There’s not one corporate thing in Reefton, and that’s the way we want to live.”

Tula and Niles closed its doors on Wednesday, with all stock selling for rock-bottom prices.

“We’ve been selling everything way below cost, but I don’t care – it’s pretty fun,” Christie says.

She hints that they may look at opening a business in Reefton but “want to get a feel for what it needs” first.

Meanwhile, she says they have sold 28 Nile St to another community-minded couple who are planning on using the space in a “similar fashion”.

“I’m so happy it will be in good hands, but it’s definitely the end of an era for us.”