Business: Country Simplicity, Cobar
A shop that boasts 89 different flavours of tea, homemade fudge and items from around the world really is a sight to behold. Cobar’s Country Simplicity is a hub of gifts, homewares and unique products along with its own tearoom boasting tea, coffee, cakes and scones. Any purchase made is an experience in itself, and a cup of tea and cake is always lovingly presented with style.
Owners Jacquie and Peter Huddleston are originally from Western Australia and moved to Queensland as fruit and vegetable growers before making their home in Cobar 10 years ago.
“I used to work in the mines,” Mrs Huddleston explained. “I drove trucks and did shotcrete shoring. My contract job finished at the mines so I started the business.”
Initially, the shop was half the size it is today but there was room to expand and the couple has doubled their floor space since they first opened a decade ago.
“I started off very small. We had half the shop at the time.
“It was the only shop available and had been vacant for years. I just wanted to do it, there was room for future potential,” she said.
The business started with a tearoom, and just grew from there.
“I love a good cup of tea. I also just buy the things I like which makes it easy to sell. I do what I do.”
Mrs Huddleston finds her products from a range of sources and likes each item to be special. She supports all-Australian designers and also buys products from France, Japan and the UK.
“I buy products with a story that don’t exploit people,” she said. “I have Charlie Bears which are collector’s items, lovely hand creams from France and other ranges.”
“I like to tell customers the stories of what they buy. If I don’t know where it comes from, I don’t buy it.”
There’s also teapots and teacups and related paraphernalia, decorative lamps and tealights, candles, jewellery and a range of wall clocks that catch the eye of many visitors to the shop.
Like her stock, customers come from a range of different places.
“Tourists are my main trade, whoever comes in. They come from WA, SA and Tasmania and come back year after year,” Mrs Huddleston said. “We are famous.”
With their marriage in its 46th year, the Huddleston’s business is very much a shared endeavour too.
“It’s like our second home,” she laughed.
“I do the ordering and have ideas about that while my husband does the physical side of things and working in the shop. We also go on buying trips.”
While faced with challenges such as Afterpay and online shopping, Mrs Huddleston remains focused and is very community-minded.
“I give to sports and charity,” she said. “We do sponsorships, gift cards. We provided shirts for the AFL club. We also bought a defibrillator for the community.”
They were rewarded with a Business Association Award in 2009 and the couple remains dedicated to providing a wonderful haven of gifts and treats.
“We like working, I enjoy the shop, it brings tourists to town. We really work for the town.”
Country Simplicity is located at 49 Marshall St, Cobar.