Something old still part of the new Whitianga town centre upgrade 31 July 2018 While there's a lot of new works going on around the main street, one gem that pays tribute to bygone times is Epoch Antiques and Floristry at 25 Albert Street. Photo File: Maria in store at Epoch antiques and Floristry Steve and Maria Osborn started the business four years ago now is heading into its fifth year of trading. Steve and Maria saw an opportunity recently to really grow the floristry side of the business and have put a lot more focus on this over the last year. They do florist deliveries all over the Mercury Bay area, as well as weddings, and other events, most recently 50 lovely corsages for the Mercury Bay School Ball. Steve's wife Maria, along with Sharon who also works in the shop, started out as self-taught enthusiasts. Now having completed various courses to drive their passion for floristry, they are starting to be recognised for their craft. Check out some of these modelling shoots the team have catered for here. With recent upgrades to stainless steel work benches and three new specialised fridges in store, the floristry part of the business is definitely thriving. "We can order in anywhere between $1,000 to $1,500 of flowers weekly, along with greenery, so we're all set to meet the towns everyday needs, while catering to larger events when the special occasion arises'" says Steve. When it comes to the impact on business of the town centre upgrade, Steve says their biggest drive is to remind the community that their store is still open for business. "Even though we weren't directly affected by the first phase of the road closure to vehicle traffic, the diversion has impacted on the business," says Steve. "We're not sure that the pedestrian areas are what everyone wanted. Obviously a lot of our customers want to be able to park, run in and order what they need as well as visiting the neighboring stores, but they're going to have to get used to possibly parking further away from their destination on some occassions," adds Steve. With a strong family connection to Whitianga, Steve and Maria moved to Comers Road over 10 years ago, following Maria's family who had already moved to town. Soon after more of the family has migrated to Whitianga. "Maria and I have a special soft spot for the local fire brigade, with the 2016 fire on Comers Rd we nearly lost our house and the guys from Matarangi and Whitianga fire brigades were absolutely brilliant. We also always try to support local charities like our SPCA next door with the vets," says Steve. "We do appreciate our loyal local customer base, local restaurants and events at Hot Water Beach and Opitio Bay for all their support and we'll keep delivering our best. We're a community- based shop and we feel it’s the right thing to do, by having the retail store in town. We advertise in the local paper the Informer and check out our pages on the "All About Whitianga" website as well," adds Steve. Check out more on what's on offer at the Epoch Antiques and Florist store, by popping in and chatting with Maria and Sharon. Email orders can be taken via email@example.com or phone 07 866 2100 and visit their Web and Facebook pages to view some of their beautiful arrangements. Works this week - 31 July This week we have all three sections of Albert St being worked on as we plough on with the town centre upgrade. Phase One - Lee Street to Monk Street. Completion of foot path paving block installation from Mainly Casual to FeetStreat Stores. Installation of street furniture, plants and the concrete spheres. The spheres are representative of the overall Whitianga town centre navigational theme, illustrating the use of stars and planets by early maori, european and polynesian navigators and in particular the transit of Mercury witnessed by Captain James Cook. Completion of power supply to street light poles. Finishing off the locking of paving stones as well as concrete surrounds to street light poles. Bike racks have been installed near Chances retail store and we encourage the community to lock your bikes there and walk along the main street. Phase Two - Monk Street to Hannan Road. Continue storm water drainage installation. Continue excavation and installation of new utility services. Installation of subsoil drainage and street light poles. Phase Three - Blacksmith Lane to Campbell Street. Traffic management will be set up with the closure of Albert Street at the corner of Blacksmith Lane, through to Campbell Street, from Sunday 5 August. The road will still be open to pedestrians and shops will still be open for business.