Sweet new venture in Allanton

The Honey Shop co-owners Hannah Booiman, holding her 7-week-old daughter Willow, and Alicia...
The Honey Shop co-owners Hannah Booiman, holding her 7-week-old daughter Willow, and Alicia Wheeler at their new shop in Allanton. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A new honey shop has been a hive of activity since opening in Dunedin this year.

Hannah Booiman (nee Johnson) and Alicia Wheeler (nee Ward) became friends when they started at Kavanagh College, aged 11.

Twenty years on, the friends have opened a business - The Honey Shop - in an empty store in Allanton in January.

As well as starting a business, both women have recently given birth to their first children.

Mrs Booiman had her girl Willow in January and Mrs Wheeler had her boy Reggie in November.

Both women were on maternity leave, Mrs Wheeler from teaching and Mrs Booiman from nursing.

Opening a new business, while caring for newborns was made manageable by their husbands, Vinnie Booiman and Allan Wheeler, who were "stepping up and sharing the workload'', Mrs Booiman said.

The shop, near State Highway 1, sold honey harvested by eight Southern beekeepers with small operations, Mrs Booiman said.

"It gives them a place to sell some of their honey to the community.''

Honey on the shelves came from the boutique beekeepers with hives in locations such as Allanton, Balclutha, Blueskin Bay and Catlins.

The two friends also sold their own honey.

After they both completed a Taratahi beekeeping course in Momona Hall last year they decided to start the business.

They harvested honey from their 20 hives in locations such as Fairfield, Middlemarch, Mt Cargill and Northeast Valley.

In the shop in Peel St, customers could bring their own jars to fill with their clover honey for $20 a kilogram - a price "on par'' with the supermarkets.

The point of difference of the honey they sold was it was fresher, traceable and gave customers a smaller ecological footprint by buying local, Mrs Booiman said.

The pair leased the shop from Mrs Booiman's parents - Bee Supplies Otago co-owners Noreen and Eric Johnson, who ran their business from the back of the building.

On weekdays, if Mr Johnson was working out back, he would serve customers in the shop.

The two friends hoped Sundays would become the most popular day for customers to visit the shop, because one of them would be there to serve customers between 11am and 3pm.

Mrs Wheeler hoped an instore hive - which has plexiglass windows so people can observe bees working - would help attract customers in their bid to get people "buying local honey to support local beekeepers''.

SHAWN.MCAVINUE @thestar.co.nz

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