LEAVING Auckland’s Karangahape Road for the Church and King street intersection in Opotiki was an easy call Steve Hodge says.
“It just felt right.” While Steve still has staff working at Illicit, his clothing and graphic design company in Auckland, he didn’t want to use the brand name as his store name in Opotiki.
“I wanted to go a bit more mainstream, so I’m calling it the Opotiki General Store,” he says.
Selling T-shirts, hats, jandals and vape gear and mixing it with bicycle hire in Opotiki from this week, Steve says he has no regrets about leaving Auckland behind. “I had been thinking about leaving for a while,” he says. “Auckland shops are getting too expensive.”
Steve says he travelled to Hawke’s Bay, but there were no shops available there. “I stopped in here a month ago, on the way back from Hawke’s Bay,” he says.
“My best friend told me her mother had just bought this place in Opotiki and there’s a store in the building.”
Steve made up some Opotiki-specific streetwear, packed up and shifted to the Eastern Bay.
“I opened the store [last] Saturday,” he says. Steve says his brand is popular in South Auckland. “I have a big following there with what I do,” he says. “I’m known in the MMA fight scene and the tattooing scene.” However, he is not all about graphic design and streetwear.
He has also been working for the Auckland Council with community centres and activities.
“I want to bring that here also,” Steve says. “The kids need something to do.”
The move to Opotiki had come easy and Steve says he hasn’t been worried about it. “It kind of found me,” he says.