Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Camp Hill corner store discovered by the Courier Mail

I have talked about this wonderful little corner shop before. Now the CM has cottoned on to them: it's bound to be not long before they're overrun by every man and his dog looking for Coffin Bay oysters and gourmet tapenade on their evening walk.
Good for the Rimberts! It's a great spot.

Rimberts' corner store goes upmarket to survive
By David Costello
April 29, 2008
ALONG with drive-in theatres and Brylcreem, small convenience stores are just about extinct these days. Extended supermarket hours have killed most of the homely little places where kids could cash in empty soft-drink bottles and pick up 5¢ worth of mixed lollies.
A lot of childhood memories were stirred when we checked out Chris and Kerrie Rimbert's place in Stephen St, Camp Hill. This is a classic Brisbane prewar corner shop and was built in 1938.
It is one of those small wooden places that back in the 1960s had an unhurried atmosphere. If you waited long enough, a lady would come out from the living quarters through a door with a screen of plastic strips.
The Rimberts, however, sell a lot of things you don't find in your average suburban shop.
The blackboard outside announces that they have quails and fresh oysters from Coffin Bay in South Australia.
If you are stuck, you can borrow a shucking knife to get into these big juicy shellfish. Go inside and there are bottles of duck fat and Gillian Hirst's sand crab and salmon lasagne.
Kerrie Rimbert explains that going up-market was a matter of survival.
They moved to Camp Hill in 1994 and by 2000 they could see the axe falling when five similar stores in the local area closed down thanks to competition and the GST.
Today gourmet lines make up 70 per cent of turnover.
There is a strong demand for this as Camp Hill fills up with well-heeled professionals attracted by its gracious old homes and city views.
While we looked around the place, the customers included a lawyer looking for olive oil and pasta and a five-year-old who had trouble choosing between milk bottles and redskins.
The idea, Kerrie Rimbert says, is to have everything needed for a dinner party. She sells Brubecks dips, Udder Delights goat cheeses, lamb, beef and poultry from Salm's Meats at Carindale and Tony Wensley's English-style sausages and pork pies.
There is personalised cooking advice too. We liked the look of some osso bucco cuts (veal shins) and Rimbert suggested browning these with onions and tomato and simmering in cinnamon, red wine and a bay leaf. She has interesting French-influenced tastes thanks to time spent in New Caledonia, where she was the talking guide on a tour bus and her husband, who hails from Vanuatu, the driver. And Rimbert doesn't mind looking far afield for new products.
This was the first time we'd come across spiced Syrian figs from the Jam Lady at Healesville in Victoria's Yarra Valley. Passion Pasta from Melbourne makes fresh ravioli which is more tender and tasteful than any of the frozen stuff we have tried. Closer to home she has cakes, slices and profiteroles from Konditorei on the Gold Coast. During the strawberry season, the Rimberts drive to Redland Bay to pick up strawberries that "are red the whole way through".
For a real heart starter, there are Chilli Madness jams and chutneys from Grange. The "farkenhot' chutney is aptly named.
The Rimberts love the store because they can work together and be a focal point of a friendly local community. "We love seeing the local children grow up," says Kerrie Rimbert. "The kids are always coming back with their boyfriends, girlfriends and fiancees.
"We have been invited to 21st birthdays, engagement parties and weddings too.
"Sometimes the youngsters go out in the world and we have postcards from London and New York.
"But when they get back they are not too big for a hug."
The shop can also function as a crisis centre and tearful children have been known to rush in to report their lost dogs.
Chris and Kerrie Rimbert's Convenience Store is at 37 Stephen St, Camp Hill (ph: 3398 4539).

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