Drumroll please … Sunday shopping at Thomas’s has arrived!

Thomas's is now open for Sunday tradingYou’ve been asking for it and we’re delighted to announce that it’s nearly here – Sunday opening at Thomas’s!

From Sunday 6 November, Thomas’s store and Thomas & Sons cafe will be open every Sunday for the summer period from 11.00am until 3.00pm – except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Use your Sundays to catch up on your shopping or enjoy a long lazy lunch with friends (or both!). Our popular salads change daily and are packed with the freshest of local produce. And have you tried Marcia’s carrot cake yet? You really should.

The hot weather has arrived so make sure you check out our beautiful new summer clothing ranges in store from Karen Walker to Kowtow to Kate Sylvester. And if you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, we have gorgeous new products arriving in Homewares. And we’ll even wrap your gifts for you while you enjoy your coffee.

Sunday buzz with Thomas's and Blenheim CBD

There’s going to be a real buzz in the Blenheim CBD on a Sunday this summer – a number of both independent and chain stores are now open on Sundays and if you want to nab a spot on the super comfortable, and popular, bean bags in the Forum you’ll have to be in quick!

As our opening day coincides with the wonderful Stihl Shop Garden Fete in Seymour Square, part of Garden Marlborough, you can come and put your feet up at Thomas & Sons afterwards for some glorious food and a great coffee.

When Marlborough made it happen

Holmdale, image courtesy of Marlborough Historical Society

Holmdale, image courtesy of Marlborough Historical Society

With housing shortages and homelessness a current New Zealand-wide issue, it’s timely to reflect on an excellent example of the Marlborough community working together to make a lasting difference for vulnerable people.

Lots of people will be familiar with the Bethsaida Retirement Village, but not all will know the inspiring story of community endeavour behind its creation.

In 1973 a group of prominent Blenheim citizens set up the Bethsaida Trust, the purpose of which was to establish a Home for the care of the frail and dependent elderly, of either sex, without discrimination as to race, religion or political belief.

Back in the early 1970s there were not many private homes for elderly people, and housing options were limited. The local priest, Father Sloane, was concerned that some elderly were effectively about to become homeless – there was no assistance from the government at the time – and he started the ball rolling within the community to create what would become Bethsaida Home for the Aged.

A Marlborough Express article written while Bethsaida was doing further fundraising after its opening, explained: “Bethsaida is unique among institutions in New Zealand caring for the aged – it provides for the totally dependent and who are not hospital cases. As such it does not qualify in any way for Government subsidy. It is dependent solely on residents’ fees for all it operational costs…”

Bethsaida and Holmdale history, newspaper heading from 1970

Bethsaida and Holmdale history, newspaper heading from 1970


Our very own Terence Thomas was one of three trustees who along with Father Sloane, took on the responsibility for making the vision a reality. These three trustees and various other volunteers in the community worked tirelessly to secure a location and ongoing funding for the home, which was eventually opened in 1973 in the old Holmdale nurse’s home on Litchfield Street, Blenheim.

Originally housing fifteen residents, the building was rented from the Marlborough Hospital Board for the princely sum of $2.00 per year. In 1988 the other Holmdale Maternity Hospital buildings – which will be familiar to many Marlburians as the place in which they were born, or gave birth – were offered to the Bethsaida Trust, and the rest home was able to expand.

Brian Kerridge and Terry Thomas at Bethsaida, Blenheim

Brian Kerridge (left) and Terry Thomas with a cheque for the Marlborough Area Health Board, standing in front of Bethsaida.

 Holmdale was the main maternity hospital in Marlborough for nearly 70 years, from 1918 (when it was purchased from James Bell who had used it as his private residence). Holmdale, in its maternity hospital guise, finally closed on 1 October 1987 and the main building became part of the Bethsaida home.

In 1992 when it was demolished (see photo below) to make way for more housing for the elderly, many Marlburians came for a final look. The history of Holmdale wasn’t entirely lost as many people bought salvaged materials from the building for their own projects and the Blenheim Riverside Railway Society reused timber and other materials for its planned rebuild of the Picton railway station at Brayshaw Park.

Jack Kundycki (left) and Terry Thomas (right) of the Bethsaida board of management with contractor Peter Heagney at Holmdale.

Jack Kundycki (left) and Terry Thomas (right) of the Bethsaida board of management with contractor Peter Heagney at Holmdale. The interior has been gutted, and the roof is being stripped in the background.” Marlborough Express 7 April 1992

While the government does now come to the party assisting elderly people with housing, Bethsaida maintains an essential role in our community being the only rest home in Marlborough to offer units for rental rather than solely for purchase.

Michael Thomas took over from his father and is now a proud trustee of the Bethsaida board. We’re very proud of our grandfather’s and father’s involvement in this great community venture (and our children think it’s great having a street named after their great grandfather!).


All of the images and newspaper cuttings above are used with the kind permission of the Marlborough Historical Society Inc. Marlborough Museum Archives.

Have you discovered this treasure trove of Marlborough history for yourself in the Research Room at the Marlborough Museum next to Brayshaw Park? If you’re interested in your family history, the history of your house, old copies of the Marlborough Express – or just love beautiful old maps and photos – then you’re in for a treat. The staff are very helpful and can find all sorts of goodies hidden away in the multitude of boxes!


Two powerhouse New Zealand designers now have their own areas in store

Karen Walker concept area at Thomas's Lonely concept area at Thomas'sWe’re delighted to have launched new concept areas recently in store with two powerhouse Kiwi brands – Karen Walker and Lonely.

Karen Walker – one of New Zealand’s biggest fashion exports – made the news over the weekend with her decision not to show at New York Fashion Week this season. She’s been a regular on the New York fashion circuit for a decade but has just announced that with the changes in social media marketing New York no longer works for her. You can read more about it here. Brave call for a brave designer and it is testament to her status and influence that this decision isn’t likely to hurt her sales.

The Karen Walker aesthetic captures a sense of eccentric elegance and her clothes and accessories are beloved around the world, including by personalities such as Alexa Chung, Lorde, Rihanna, Gigi Hadid and Florence Welch. Come in and experience the Karen Walker phenomenon with a new spring range that is all about colour and distinctive patterns.

Karen Walker concept store at Thomas's“Fostering a sense of positive body image and freedom of expression, Lonely eschews conventional marketing, bringing its collections to life via the Lonely Girls Project, a journal featuring women around the world from all walks of life captured wearing Lonely in their way.”

These are the words of Helene Morris, Lonely designer, who along with Steve Ferguson makes up the Auckland-based Lonely duo. The Lonely Girls Project focuses on real women – of many sizes and shapes – being photographed in their underwear. And it is due to this refreshing approach to marketing, as well as the beautiful designs, that Lonely is fast gaining cult status across the globe.

These guys are big on Instagram. Follow along to find out more about the Lonely Girls Project.

Lonely - new range at Thomas'sLonely celebrates women’s strength and individuality with beautiful, and comfortable, lingerie, swimwear and clothing. This latest spring summer 2016 range was inspired by the movie Ghost World, starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson.

Lonely is appealing to a broad range of women here in Marlborough – all ages are snapping up the lingerie and enjoying the flexibility of the clothing which can be dressed up or down. We’ve had great feedback and there’s more lingerie and lounge wear arriving at the end of the month and then again in November, when the swimwear will make its appearance.

Come in store and see what all the fuss is about. Our wonderful staff in womenswear would love to help you discover the Karen Walker and Lonely collections for yourself.

Image credit: In-store photographs by Peter Burge


















Spring into new fashion – what to look out for this season

Trends for Spring 2016 at Thomas's

At Thomas’s we like to stay at the forefront of fashion so we can offer you a broad selection of the best designs available, right here in Marlborough. As well as keeping our eye firmly fixed on design trends, we are also committed to supporting beautifully, ethically and sustainably made clothing, created from enduring and high quality fabrics. We want to sell you great clothes that last – so you can feel good while you look good!

Hamish is our fashion buyer and he and Tim frequent the fashion show front rows to keep up to date. We put some questions to Hamish about what to look out for in spring trends this year.

Spring 2016 Trends – Q&A with Hamish:

Q.  What are the main trends we should be looking out for in spring 2016 fashion?

A.  Off the shoulder styles are going to be strong, especial in preppy blue and white fabrics. Anything Victorian – ruffles, puffy sleeves, high-collar necklines and loads of flowers. Also look for lightweight denims and bomber jackets.

Q.  What’s else is happening in denim – are flares still the thing? Anything new?

A.  All our international brands are showing high-waisted straight leg jeans in light coloured denim, think 1990s, look for holes and raw edge hems. There has been a move on from flares, look for cropped bootlegs such as these from Neuw below. There is still dark and black denim as well as the boyfriend fit.

Neuw flared pant from Thomas's

Q.  What’s up in colours for this coming season?

A. Orange is strong, as is khaki, and look for white, prints, dusty pinks and light-coloured denim.

Spring 2016 Trends with Thomas's of Marlborough

Q. Is there a great difference between new ideas in men’s and womenswear?

A.  Fashion is always lead by women’s trends and men’s styling is taken from there, like colour, fabric and styling.

Q. What would be your favourite NZ label in store this spring – for men and women? What great things are Kiwi designers doing?

A. That would have to be Kowtow for women and Huffer for the guys – you can see both in the photos below. Both labels fit our Kiwi lifestyle, Kowtow uses organic cotton which has an amazing feel, and is so comfortable to wear.  We stock Kate Sylvester, Zambesi, Nyne, Workshop and have just opened our Karen Walker and Lonely concept area which is very exciting. We are so proud to stock so many outstanding NZ labels. It is very important to know your customer and keep true to that, it keeps people coming back season after season and that is what makes NZ labels so popular.

Kiwi cool from Kowtow - Sunday Jumpsuit 2Huffer for men from Thomas's

Q.  Which is your favourite international label in store?

A.  Ted Baker, both men’s and women’s. Their attention to detail is incredible, they use the best fabrics and cuts.

Q.  What labels do you recommend for those who want to be at the forefront of new trends?

A.  Karen Walker (see below left), Zambesi or international labels Ksubi or Diesel.

Q.  How about for those of us who are a little bit slower to get on board or who prefer a more classic look?

A.  Caroline Sills, or Obi, both have beautiful knitwear, dresses and pants and of course both are from NZ.

Q.  There’s a real feel of comfort in the new Camilla and Marc spring range, as witnessed in the image above. Is the comfort factor spread across other labels too?

A.  Comfort is the key to all labels – you will see brands do beautiful dresses for evening wear and casual clothing for the weekends.

Q.  And what’s your take on the must-have accessory for the coming months?

A.  Hoop earrings, mules for shoes and a Yu Mei bag.

You heard it here from Hamish first. Check out the new spring range online or come in store to see it for yourself. We have fantastic friendly staff who’re highly skilled at helping choose the perfect clothes for you.

We’ll leave the last word on the topic to the inimitable Vivienne Westwood, who once said “Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.” Couldn’t have said it better ourselves!


Marlborough Book Festival – time to cosy up with a good book

Thomas's supporting the Marlborough Book Festival

Who’s heading along to the Marlborough Book Festival this weekend? Aren’t we lucky to have such an incredible line-up of top New Zealand authors descending on the region – with Bill Manhire, Kate de Goldi, Charlotte Grimshaw, Witi Ihimaera and Rachael King just a few of them.

The book festival is a fantastic event for Marlborough and an important cultural festival which we’ve been very pleased to help promote since its inception in 2014. Keep an eye out for our new window display put together in conjunction with the book festival trust. If that doesn’t make you want to dip into a great book we don’t know what will!

We take great pride in our window displays here at Thomas’s and have a team of talented people who work on them. This book-lover’s dress (as seen in the photo above) was conceived by Ingrid and Hanna. The concept was based on a previous Christmas window we did, with the book pages replacing Christmas decorations. Hamish and Cathy laboured over this little dress one evening and the night-time effect was captured beautifully by Peter Burge’s photograph. The lovely old books used as props come from our extensive archives – it’s amazing what you accumulate after 103 years!

On that note, there’s a beautiful book in store that would make a good present for someone who loves cooking, Gjelina – Cooking from Venice, California – is filled with sumptuous recipes and images from the celebrated Los Angeles restaurant. And if you need cosy accessories for winter reading we have beautiful Le Forge lamps, Citta candles – how about Gingerbread Soy? – and a selection of gorgeous throws. For more on the featured products in this window, check out our website or come and see us in-store.

It’s great to see a few other shop windows around town getting behind this wonderful event. Watch out for our coming window displays with new stock arriving – in all departments – in August. We’ll be sharing some spring/summer trends with you in our next blog too.

Shop at Thomas's Marlborough for great reading and accessories

Thomas & Sons – meet master cook Marcia Chang-Hong and try the new winter dine-in menu

Thomas and Sons Cafe 103 years in the making, Blenheim

Marcia Chang-Hong at Thomas and Sons. Photo credit: Peter Burge Photography

Thomas & Sons – 103 years in the making…

The café concept was actually something Hamish and Tim Thomas looked at seven or eight years ago but decided the timing wasn’t quite right, so they opened Scotch instead in 2008, owning it for six years. They learnt a lot over this time, “as hospitality is quite different to retail”, and those skills helped with Thomas & Sons, particularly in the setup and they were able to use this experience to get the formula right for the café.

The cafe at Thomas’s opened on 20 November 2015 with coffee and treats from the counter but the kitchen has now come in-house, as has the dining, and a full winter menu is in operation.

Marcia Chang-Hong, cook extraordinaire, has been instrumental from the beginning. Marcia much prefers the title cook to chef as she believes cooking is a “natural, fundamental thing.” Confident in the quality of her food, Marcia is however very humble and doesn’t like any of the fuss associated with being a chef. “I just want to make fresh, simple, rustic food”. Hamish and Tim knew of Marcia as they’d been guests at her legendary dinners and were thrilled when she agreed to come on board for their new venture.

Marcia has a fascinating history. Born in Trinidad to Chinese parents who had emigrated there in the early 1950s, Marcia then went to high school and university in Toronto, Canada and it was there she fell into cooking. Restaurants in Toronto and Vancouver were followed by an eight-year stint in London where she cooked at top restaurants Kensington Place and the Brackenbury before her then husband Peter Burge suggested a move back to his hometown of Blenheim.

Marcia admits she wasn’t ready for the change of pace then, she loved her work and the busy life in London and coming to Blenheim in 2003 was quite hard, but she loves it here now.  “Marlborough allows for a beautiful way of living, no traffic, open space, great people, lots of good produce – and where else in the world could I get to milk a cow for fresh milk and cheese making?”

Marcia Chang-Hong, at work at in the kitchen at Thomas and Sons, Blenheim

Marcia Chang-Hong, at work at in the kitchen at Thomas and Sons. Photo credit: Peter Burge Photography

It wasn’t too long after arriving in Marlborough that word of Marcia’s skills and experience got around and she has been in hot demand ever since. Before starting at Thomas & Sons Marcia worked overtime as a freelance chef doing private dinners, as well as cooking for top wineries around the region.

Marcia was keen for a more regular and less frantic work schedule. Having said that, she’s still pretty busy with cooking in the Thomas & Sons kitchen six days a week. All of the beautiful food sold in the cafe is prepared and cooked by Marcia and everything is made from scratch, right down to the delicious chutneys and breads.

 Originally working out of commercial kitchens off-site, Marcia is now in her fifth week in the brand new in-house Thomas & Sons kitchen. It was hard working off-site as Marcia had a limited link with the cafe and was therefore also limited with what she could prepare, cook and deliver. Now being onsite she can make meals fresh and send them out straight away. She also likes being close by to see what’s working and what’s not.

The new winter menu was produced by Marcia working alongside Hamish. From the new menu Marcia is a particular fan of “Grandma Thomas’s savoury mince on toast”. While the recipe is Marcia’s, the meal and title is a nod to Tim and Hamish’s memories of their grandparents’ mince on toast specialty. Marcia also highly recommends the chicken katsu sandwich and pork banh mi rolls. “I like food to have a bit of flavour and be fresh and tasty.”

Thomas and Sons cafe, Marlborough It’s worth popping along to Thomas & Sons regularly as some treats are served only on particular days of the week. Friday, for example, is Marcia’s delicious pizza and the to-die-for chocolate brioche. “Peter, who used to be a baker, says they’re as good as you can get anywhere in the world. Better than in France even. We’re so lucky in Blenheim that we’ve got these, even if it’s only one day a week!” And don’t miss “the best donuts in the world” on Saturdays.


Another item not to be missed is Marcia’s carrot cake, for which she is famous all over the world. “Every time I make it people always go crazy, even if they say they don’t like carrot cake!”

We’re so lucky to have Marcia here in Marlborough – come and try the new winter menu and treat yourself to some of Marcia’s magic.

Thomas and Sons Dine in winter menu 2016
















Mid-winter Christmas at Thomas’s – red carpet, mulled wine & hot prices

Hot winter sale at Thomas's, MarlboroughThe invitations have been sent out, the red carpet is ready to be rolled out … have you received your invite already to the exclusive mid-winter evening preview here at Thomas’s? For our account holders and VIPs only – that’s you!

Come along to Thomas’s this Wednesday evening for some pampering – mulled wine, nibbles, plus designer clothing, homewares and more at mid-winter sale prices. This is an exclusive first view of our sale – across all departments – with some items at up to 70% off original prices, and some discounts available for the one night only.

As an extra treat every purchase will go in the draw to win a $250 Thomas’s voucher!

Grab your friends and escape the cold with some Thomas’s mid-winter shopping fun:

Thomas’s Department Store

Wednesday 13 July