Fantastic five open new store

By Simon Ruppert

Tom, Roxanne, Kirsty, Jackie and Shannon all grew up in Benalla.

Earlier this year a combination of entrepreneurial spirit and passion for the rural city led them to open a pop-up shop.

It was home to Brass and Threads, and North East Victoria Plants.

Between the two it specialised in retro clothing, artefacts and collectables as well as offering a wide range of plants.

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The plan for the store was to keep it open for just one week, however, the demand was such that the group decided to stay open a bit longer.

Two weeks later, however, the country went into a lockdown aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 and they had no option but to lock the door.

Shannon Tharratt, Roxanne Demasson and Tom Demasson

But it was going to take more than an international pandemic to stop them.

For the past few weeks they have been setting up their new venture "Between Two Ferns", which is at 16 Carrier St, next door to the old Hook & Spoon butcher shop.

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“There was a lot of enthusiasm and acceptance of Brass and Threads from people who were telling us they were excited to see this type of shop come to town,” Shannon said.

“So when we were looking to re-open we had been shown through the shop on Carrier St and were excited by what we could potentially do with it.

“We have a large double shopfront and an amazing warehouse space out the back, which is not only perfect for storing and displaying a variety of plants, but can also be utilised in a number of different ways.

“Where we initially opened up on Bridge St was a perfect shop, but it was quite small.

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“Having the warehouse space at the back will allow us to offer space for pop up events, such as live music, performances, wine tastings and classes.

“A lot of people in town will know the building well.

“It was home to the old saw doctor for many years.”

The store is in a developing retail precinct that is expanding beyond the traditional Bridge St CBD.

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The old Victoria hotel has recently been refurbished and "One Dude and his Wok" officially opened to dine-in customers just last week.

Ed-Space has two retail locations in the area offering bike sales and servicing as well as a new cafe, which has also only recently opened.

“We also have a hairdresser, two beauticians, and a masseur at this end of town,” Roxanne said.

“Some of our first customers at the weekend were saying how much they like the location and how vibrant it is becoming.”

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The official opening took place on Saturday and Tom said quite a few people came in for a browse and many left with plants, pots, some vintage clothing and a smile on their face.

“Essentially Between Two Ferns houses North East Victoria Plants, Brass and Threads and has space for events, creative ideas and retailers,” he said.

“So if there is anyone out there who might want to hire the space, please pop in and have a chat.”

As with most stores in Benalla the small-town feel and friendly atmosphere is more about the people than the business.

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Roxanne Demasson will be well known to Ensign readers.

She has been on the Wall to Wall Street Art Committee since its inception and oversaw last year's event as chair.

She is a hard-working mum who divides her time between raising a young family and giving her all to make Between Two Ferns a success.

Speaking of family, Tom Demasson is her brother and is well-known among the area's horticulturists as North East Victoria’s Plant man.

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He was the person who initially floated the idea that would eventually become Between Two Ferns.

Shannon Tharratt is another name that will be familiar to Ensign readers.

Between two Ferns is located in the old SawDoc shop on Carrier St.

She is a long-term Wall to Wall Committee supporter, and current chair.

The former owner of One Wild Apple Cafe, Shannon was one of the first shopkeepers in Benalla to get involved in the Fair Feed Program, which offers subsidised meals to people experiencing homelessness.

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Her Event Production business has also been running on the side for a number of years and she is excited to now have a space cultivate it further.

Kirsty is the third Wall to Wall Committee member who is part of Benalla's Fantastic Five.

She is a qualified chef, mum of two and a passionate gardener.

She is known for her creativity and you will find a range of her hand-made items in Between Two Ferns.

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The last member of the team is Jackie.

As another dedicated mum and creative soul Jackie is the final piece of the puzzle restoring furniture and selling a range of stock from Country Allure.

● Between Two Ferns is open Fridays from 9 am to 4 pm; Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm; and on Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm. You can find them on Facebook @Between-two-Ferns or you can email [email protected]