Ep 49 - Time for a tree change? Shelley Panton shares her story.
From small beginnings building a pottery studio and store in the back streets of Middle Park, to running a bustling boutique store on Malvern Road, Prahran, Shelley Panton of The Panton Store has decided it’s time for a tree change. After 14 years of retail in the big smoke, Shelley, a renowned Melbourne potter and her partner Arran have made the brave move to the country. Now residing in Foster, they’ve purchased an old hardware store in Toora to share their wares with those residing in and visiting the stunning South Gippsland region.
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Broadcast: February 17, 2023
Here is a snippet of our conversation…
It all started with a dream..
Having worked in restaurants, I loved reading stories in the Epicure section at the time.. and after reading about chefs who perhaps worked at a notable restaurant and then moved to a country village and opened a simple bakery or cafe and they kind of used their city profile to make a tree change. And I remember reading lots of those sorts of stories and being quite inspired and I thought, oh, maybe one day I might have a chance at doing that too. I didn't think much more about it because it was so far out of my reach. So once we moved from Middle Park to Prahran and the business grew, at probably year five I started to feel like yeah, maybe that change might be a little bit closer.
A defining catalyst..
Just before Covid started, my partner had a pretty serious motorbike accident, and he was off work for three months, so his recovery was at home in South Gippsland and I guess I spent uninterrupted time down here then. And I really loved that time - it wasn't a great time for us and his health, but we had a chance for both of us to stop and just be here. We've both worked in service-based roles our whole lives and we've both worked on hard concrete floors and we've worked long hours and for us to have that break and to be at home in nature was really a gift. And yeah, it was a sort of catalyst, it made us reassess, like, how do we want to live in the future?
The importance of building community..
It has been quite a natural process and I think that's what's been really lovely. In all the places I've lived in my life its starting with who’s next door? And we also got to know other small businesses that were on our drive from and to South Gippsland. We got to know those little micro businesses as being patrons and we really liked what we saw. And then once lockdown ended and people were allowed to be social again, we started to notice that we’d meet someone randomly, like it might be at the queue to the post office or outside the chemist or in Foodworks. In the country there’s a town hall in almost every little village and there's often events at the town hall, like it might be a fundraiser or a film night or a history weekend or an art exhibition. And usually when you have those events, you know that it's a gold coin donation and you bring your own picnic and your own wine, and you rock up and and you meet people that way. It’s really basic and on a level that I absolutely love. It's just simple living..
To those contemplating a big change..
You wake up one day and the hardest decision becomes the easiest decision. And I guess, in your heart of hearts and in your gut, you know where you want to be. Having the guts to do something on that instinct is obviously a different thing.. but just follow your gut...