Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

16 February 2010

Open 7 Days 7. Colville General Store

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.

Main Road, Colville, Coromandel Peninsula.
Proprietors: Colville Co-operative Society

In 1978 a group of local people formed a co-operative and bought the Colville Store. After some years of love and little reward they have rebuilt it into the industrious and thriving business it is today.

It is the northernmost store on the Coromandel; as such it looks after the needs of residents as far out as Port Jackson and Port Charles, and suddenly, when the holiday season comes, a customer base of anything up to five thousand. There was a strong ‘green’ feel about the store long before the popular move started, and although it sells ‘everything’, the co-operative members most enjoy selling healthy foods, in bulk, trying to avoid plastic packaging as far as it’s possible in modern times. They also encourage locals to sell their cottage-industry products through the store - home-made candles, jewellery and craft works - and they’re noted for their honey from friendly neighbourhood bees.

The store is not so old by rural general store standards. It was built in 1946 by Dick Goudie out of materials acquired from the old naval base at Port Jackson. In those days Colville was an important timber-milling district. In the 1990s farming is the mainstay, but the population is drawn from all walks of life: timber millers, settler-generation farmers, doctors, lecturers, potters, weavers, inventors, tax consultants, moteliers, beekeepers, plumbers, painters and Department of Conservation staff.

‘Being a co-operative makes it interesting,’ says Meryl Johnson, one of the co-ordinators, ‘especially when people say, “Oh, you’re a co-operative - do you all live out the back?” '
Old hand-cranked fuel pumps just north of the Colville Store.


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By Don Donovan