Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

19 April 2010

Open 7 Days 28. Drummond 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.

Memorial Avenue, Drummond, Southland.
Proprietor: Mel Hall

Drummond, of Scottish flavour, serves an area which, after systematic draining of its swamps, started its pastoral life in the 1880s cropping oats, wheat and lighter grasses. Dairying came and went, as did Drummond’s dairy factory, and these days sheep safely graze the quiet acres.

Mel Hall’s Four Square store is as neat and tidy as the village it serves. It’s a smaller, tighter village than it once was, and Mel’s store is the survivor of two that were once able to compete and stay in business.

Mel is a ‘foreigner’ from Invercargill but, for all that, still a Southlander. He took over the store in 1983, the latest of a line of owners going back to around 1880, when it was set up by Ezekiel Roberts, one of the original townsmen. Roberts, whose descendants still live in the district, developed an efficient weekly horse-and-cart delivery service to outlying farmers and needy itinerants. As with most country storekeepers in those days, he lived with the reality of long-range credit and payments in line with farmers’ receipts.

When I visited in 1990, the Drummond Store supplied groceries, petrol, fruit, vegetables and ice creams to the people of the town and passers-by travelling the long, straight roads of this tranquil district.
Since 1883 there’s been a hotel where the Traveller’s Rest now stands.


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By Don Donovan