Celebrating nearly a decade as a treasure trove of gifts in the Top End capital, Paraphernalia, tucked into the cosy Parap Village shopping centre is a shop packed with home and kitchenwares, kids’ accessories, funky stationery and lots more. When it opened, Paula Milatos and partner Lyn Minchin’s pioneering business broke the mould for gift and homeware outlets in the Territory’s tropical retail landscape.

BACKGROUND Paula was born in Sydney and grew up in Earlwood, where her father from Kalymnos had a butcher’s shop. Trained as teacher, Paula taught at early childhood level for 18 years before her career move. “Having grown up in a shop, it seemed a natural progression to go into retail. Lyn and I met 30 years ago when we came up here to teach. We felt Darwin lacked the goods it needed. “Our product lines have evolved over the years, our goal was always to have a gift for any occasion and any price level, we felt Darwin had to come up to scratch with other Australian cities.”

WHAT MAKES YOUR CUSTOMERS COME BACK? “It’s got that family touch. Our customers want something other than what’s available at the shopping mall.” “It’s more competitive in Darwin now than when we started, we had a bit of a clear run. But we stuck to our philosophy, finding quality and having that ‘oneness’ with our customers. That’s why we haven’t felt the pinch and why the general retail downturn hasn’t affected us.”

TIPS “Everyone thinks retail’s easy, a lot of people doubted us when we started, but you really need to know your stuff. You need to know your numbers, you can’t open a business blind, you can have a passion but you need a plan.” “Since we started a lot of gift shops have opened but I still think we are a bit unique. We know our product, and we like to have a personal, hands-on approach. Our customers are our friends. Know your products and know your customers, and what they’ll buy.”

PARAPHERNALIA 3/3 Parap Shopping Village, Parap, Darwin NT 0820 paraphernalia@iinet.net.au (08) 89810614