Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

13 February 2010

Open 7 Days 5. Racecourse Superette, Auckland

I wrote and illustrated ‘Open 7 Days’. It was published in 1991. It’s a series of freeze-frames of some historic New Zealand general and convenience stores as they were preserved in the last decade of the 20th century. Bit by bit, on this blog, I re-publish some of the entries from that book.

81 Greenlane Road, Auckland.
Proprietors: Chandrakant (Ken) and Indira Patel

No book about neighbourhood stores would be complete without an Indian family named Patel. In the tradition of ‘Chuni’ of Parawera and ‘Boxer’ Patel of Waverley, Ken and Indira bring that special skill to retailing that explains why so many Indians have New Zealand dairies.

It’s the bazaar effect. A store packed from floor to ceiling with merchandise to satisfy the needs of an inner suburb of Auckland that is not only densely packed, residentially, but also has a number of tourist motels.

And outside, a colourful display of cut flowers; just the sort of peace offering a tired Remuera stockbroker needs on his way home after another late night at the office!

Ken and Indira have had the store since 1988. He came to New Zealand when he was fifteen, they married in 1970, and have a family of three. The superette, opposite the gates of Ellerslie Racecourse, is on one of the busiest streets in Auckland. It has operated as a grocery store since the 1920s, went to seven-day trading around 1970 and is now open every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. That’s a long day, every day, but you still get service with a smile.


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By Don Donovan