Three Buckets Full
509 High Street
Lower Hutt City
What it is: an antiques and notions store with a focus on textiles, sewing, and beading.
Three Buckets Full is the Wellington areas best-kept secret: everyone who has ever been to it raves about, and loves it, but the shop does no advertising, isn’t on the internet, doesn’t really even have a phone line, is in the most unpromising location, and has the most inconspicuous, uninteresting shopfront. If you don’t hear about the place by word of mouth, you are never going to find or visit it.
Luckily, word of mouth in the Wellington textile world is alive and well, and once I discovered it, Three Buckets Full became my favourite store ever. Or at least, one of the more dangerous stores ever to take me in to. It carries all of the most delightful and drool worthy pogey bait types: vintage jewellery, beads, buttons, lace, antique trims, old sewing notions, fabric, vintage textiles. The only thing I don’t care for is the dolls. Dolls are icky.
Three Buckets Full is probably the only place in Wellington where you are guaranteed to find a huge selection of vintage buttons, beads, buckles, trim, ribbon and lace – everything that a historical costumer needs for trimming frocks.
I’ve used resources that I could only find at Three Buckets full on a number of projects: for Jeanne Samary’s belt clasp, on Carolyn’s dress, for the lace on my nougat corset, and to trim innumerable fluffy white undergarments.
The selection is extensive and delightfully scattered, as an antiques store should be, but the proprietor knows her shop, and can generally tell you instantly if she has what you need.
Among the many things that the shop carries that you might need are: silver buckles, diamante buckles, 19th century steel-cut beads, early 20th century seed beads, silk ribbon (the ribbon embroidery type), silk and cotton thread, a large selection of lace dating back to the mid-19th century, trim ranging from Victorian jet to 50s nylon embroidery, old brooches, old buttons of every variety, vintage ribbons, antique jewellery, and even a bit of vintage fabric.
The shop also carries old books, old postcards and cards, old glass slides (generally of tourist attractions and artworks), a bit of old crockery, watches, bone crochet hooks, old shoe horns, quite a lot of dolls (ick), and a thousand other covetable bits and bobs that I have forgotten to mention.
The prices for most of the stuff in the shop is very, very reasonable. There are a few categories of things that are a bit pricey, and one or two items that are downright exorbitant, but the vast majority is priced quite fairly.
It’s all the way out in the Hutt Valley. I know, I’m so spoiled having all my other favourite stores within walking distance, and a half an hour isn’t a bad drive, but I still don’t go out there just for the fun of it!
The other bad is that the shop sometimes has irregular hours. Three Buckets Full is run by the owner, without staff, so if she is busy or not well, it simply isn’t open. And the only number for the shop is a mobile phone, which frequently doesn’t pick up , so sometimes you can drive all the way out, and find the shop closed.
Finally, the shop only takes cash. This is good and bad: I always pull up and remember that I don’t have any cash on me (I use my debit card for everything), but the cash only policy does help to limit my spending, which is good. If you find yourself with not quite enough actual money to pay for your purchases, there is a Pak’n’ Save grocery store with an ATM just across the street.
The dolls, and this one particularly. Really what is going on with her body? What’s with the cone thing around her waist? And the weird bulbous torso that doesn’t match up to her top? Uuuugh.
Other stuff I really must show you:
The cash register (ah! I want it! So much!)
Her keychain. Isn’t it fabulous!?! In a y’know, creepy way
The best set of filing drawers ever.
OK, possibly to be the best set of drawers ever the bottom draw should have a ‘Chocolate’ label instead of a ‘treacle toffee’ label, but still, there is some total awesomeness going on there!