Beyond the doors of Hawkes General Store lies a community oasis filled to the brim with beautiful wares, larger-than-life personalities and a whole lot of fun.

The floor of Hawkes General Store is painted the softest shade of seashell pink – it’s grounding, calming and makes the shopping experience that little bit more heavenly.

Originally known as The Orange Spinning Wheel, the eclectic boutique boasting fashion, fragrances and other fine things from near and far has been a keystone of Orange’s retail scene since 1976. Both then and now, the store has been filled to the brim with so much more than the treasures chosen to rest (if only for a moment) on the seashell floors – Hawkes General Store is bursting with fun, authenticity and real deal love born from its family-run roots in the heart of a regional community.

Original owner, Fem Hawke, still tends to the quince tree in the front courtyard and has recently planted a veggie garden behind the store’s office. She laughs while referring to herself as the groundskeeper, but the store’s new owner Coco (Fem’s daughter), says the team really call her ‘The General’.

“I’ll put it simply – I’m 76 but I don’t play bridge and I don’t play golf – I love to garden, I love walking, I love my home and I really love this shop,” says Fem.

“What I’ve always loved about it, every step of the way, is that it constantly changes. There’s a very big world out there full of beautiful products and Coco has been incredible at sourcing, moving with the times and growing Hawkes General Store into what it is today.”

Hunting for treasure

Indeed, times have changed since Fem’s reign. With no such thing as the internet or trade fairs to turn to, she’d drive her wagon up to Sydney to scour warehouses for all things new, fun, interesting and beautiful, arriving home days later to a crowd giddy with excitement at the goodies bursting forth from the car boot.

Fast forward to Coco’s time at the helm, where online sourcing is the norm and trade fairs are a time to gather, explore, connect with her mum and, ultimately, hunt for treasure.

“That’s one big thing I’m really looking forward to in 2022, heading back down to Melbourne to get amongst it at the trade fairs – that’s where Fem and I get to spend some real time together,” says Coco.

“We dedicate five full days to finding new products, catching up with suppliers, meeting new people, and all of it face-to-face, something we’ve come to miss during these pandemic times. Being able to see the product for yourself, touch it and feel it, especially with fashion, there’s something special about that – it evokes a feeling, it’s inspiring and we always return home feeling alive and enthusiastic. Of course, Melbourne’s restaurants are a big draw card too!”

Both in and outside of trade fairs, Coco’s eyes are always peeled for new treasures to take home to Hawkes General Store. Some of her favourite products come from smaller batch Australian brands like candles from Lumira and Heracode & Co, the brightly-coloured children’s clothing from Goldie + Ace, the beautiful, classic designs from CABLE Melbourne and Basil Bangs thanks to its top quality outdoor range.

“I’m also having a huge love affair with Walter G at the moment,” says Coco. “It’s run by two Australian women and all of their textiles are block-printed by hand, the result is absolutely exquisite.”

Fem is another huge Walter G fan, as well as being a long admirer of Bright Threads linen, Fairly jewellery and the divine creations of Coster Copenhagen for a Nordic touch. But above their divine collection of all things bright and beautiful, Coco simply wants visitors to feel welcome, unjudged and happy in their space.

“We are so lucky to be built on a real community vibe, with regular customers and a strong family feeling among the staff – we have a great team and I want people to feel welcome to join us anytime, whether they come for a coffee (served by crowd favourite Liam daily), to choose something special, or to simply escape the outside world for a while,” says Coco.

“Whatever our visitors are after, I’ll be here… I practically live here. You’ll also most likely pass my Dad trimming the front hedge on your way in, while Fem tends to that quince tree – it’s a real family event here at Hawkes General Store, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

{words: Steph Wanlessphotography: Kyle Manning}