WORDS: Athina Greenhalgh | IMAGES: Georgie Mann Photography (main) and Em Leonard
At the intersection of the Glenelg and Henty highways is where you’ll find the quaint town of Hamilton, home to The Hamilton Hamper, a boutique store and adjoining cafe filled with local produce and products that are a love letter to the region.
Reflecting on the store’s first days nearly five years ago, founder Bridget Pern admits that the foundations of The Hamilton Hamper weren’t built on a detailed business plan or experience in managing a cafe.
Instead it was built on a clear 100 per cent Hamilton ethos, a drive to champion local makers, and a vision to create enriching connections between producers, locals, and visitors to the town.
“My husband and I purchased the business nearly five years ago. However, prior to this I had been working with the business in its previous iteration, and over this time we were approached by many producers really wanting to showcase their products," says Bridget.
“When the opportunity arose for us to purchase the business, I saw this as an opportunity to give those producers a platform. Over the years I’ve formed relationships with them and watched them grow. It's been really rewarding. For me, it’s lovely talking about that to the community, and the people who come and visit the town.”
The store hosts a carefully curated selection of produce, homewares and gift hampers, with some of their very own branded products on the way. There is a deep sense of pride and loyalty shown by Bridget's customers.
She attributes this to the strong relationships she has formed with producers over the years, allowing her a platform to tell their stories and embed those stories into The Hamilton Hamper experience.
“There is a lot of loyalty because the customers have the producers backstory, and I feel like it's not only me but customers connecting with them. They’re coming in to purchase but they’re also purchasing for their friends; they’re sharing that product and that story everywhere, right across Australia. It’s something I've started that now is passed on to the customers”
The Hamilton Hamper is truly Bridget and her team’s love letter to the region. And it’s a love that’s reciprocated by the community with the store being awarded Business of the Year for 2022 in the Southern Grampians Shire Business Awards.
“I was honoured to receive that award and it was really lovely right off the back of COVID. We are connected with our customers, they don’t just come in and grab something and go. They’re our friends. They want to support the region and look after the local producers and we want to make sure they can do that through the store.”
In a fast-paced modern world, Bridget is proud to have created a space of tranquility where locals and visitors indulge in the beauty and simplicity of getting back to basics.
“The world today is so fast but over time we’ve worked out what is important, what makes us feel comfortable, and people are craving that space and the time to enjoy the simple things in life. I can see that more and more – just taking time out to appreciate what we actually have in our own country and in our own regions.”
This article was first published in OAK Magazine Issue 12
Visit The Hamilton Hamper at 169 Gray Street, Hamilton, Victoria, to view a curated collection of gourmet food, hampers, homewares and gifts. Sourced from over 40 local artisans, makers and growers of the south west, Victoria.