Brooke Williams and her partner Hayden Manson took over the Alexandra Night ‘n Day franchise in 2020, just after the first Covid-19 lockdown.
    Although neither had worked in retail, and despite the lack of tourists passing their store on State Highway 8, they beat more than 55 other stores to win store of the year at the franchise’s national conference this month.
    Mr Manson said they were both from Nightcaps in Southland but moved to Alexandra and bought the franchise after spending 10 years in Perth, Australia.
    ‘‘We wanted to move to Central Otago — we like Central Otago and have close family in Queenstown.’’
    Both were excited to be nominated in seven out of 10 categories at the national conference, and especially to win the excellence in coffee category.
    Winning the overall award was validation that they were doing a great job, and they credited their field manager, who coached them as they learned the franchise, and the staff whom Miss Williams said cared about the store’s standards as much as they do.
    ‘‘It’s a small team and we have fun while we’re working,’’ she said.
    They had not known what to expect as Covid hit the country, but she said business had grown steadily and they were lucky not to have to rely on tourists.
    ‘‘We want to thank the locals for their support,’’ Mr Manson said. ‘‘We’ve done this with no tourists in the country, and we get the same people in all the time.’’