The town of Naseby, population about 150, welcomed new owners to its general store last month, breathing new life into the shop and seeking to supply all the comforts of home.
Four friends bought Naseby General Store, which comes with the New Zealand Post agency, and two will share the core duties of manning the counter, with help from the other partners and one employee covering the Sunday shift.
Craig Sherson said he and partner, Paul O’Sullivan, had owned a crib in the town for seven years and lived there permanently for the last four years.
Co-owners Julie Ashton and her partner, Grant McLean, bought a house in Naseby two years ago.
Mr Sherson and Ms Ashton worked together for five years so the four are firm friends and like the idea of owning a store in their chosen town together.
They have been active on social media asking for requests from locals even before taking over the shop and their fresh-baked croissants on Fridays through Sundays are selling like hot cakes.
“The village needs a shop,” Mr Sherson said.
“Everyone had gotten used to travelling to Ranfurly for their grocery items and we wanted to change that.”
As “cribbies” themselves, he and Mr O’Sullivan had made it a rule to buy locally whenever possible and only bring in items they could not purchase close by.
That range of items is shrinking as the new owners add products they view as welcome necessities fresh croissants, barista coffee, hot pies, smoothies and a range of fresh produce their stocks of what locals tell them they want or need.
“It’s not a supermarket but we want it to be a resource for the community and keep the stock as reasonably priced as we can,” Mr Sherson said.
“We’ve probably tripled the amount of groceries.”
The shop refit has retained the feel of the historic town, with corrugated iron fronting the counter and milkshake bar and vintage radios, old phones and well-used luggage giving a museum-like air.
Many of the items were donated or lent by other locals, with the radios borrowed from their electrician and other items offered by locals as they shop.
That sense of community is something the owners seek to foster. Mr Sherson and Ms Ashton each take three days behind the counter, allowing them close contact with those they cater to.
“It means we can work longer hours and we’re still feeling fresh and interested in it,” Mr Sherson said.