Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

22 April 2010

Open 7 Days 29. Faigan’s Store, Millers Flat

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.

Teviot Road, Millers Flat, Otago.
Manager: Judith Omond

Louis Faigan opened his first store in Millers Flat in 1896 in a one-roomed shop leased from a watchmaker. Three years later he bought the boarding house on today’s site, turned the front into a store and the back into living quarters, and that’s the way it stayed until fire destroyed it in 1936 and the ‘moderne’ store was erected.

In gold-mining days Faigan’s supplied goods by pack horse to remote diggers, and by horse and cart to the dredge workers on the Clutha as well as to local farmers and residents. Sensitive always to customers’ needs, Faigan even imported ginger and rice for the Chinese miners, and this service philosophy was exemplified in his slogan, ‘Everything from a needle to an anchor’.

The old man died in 1910, and Leopold Faigan, who had started work in his father’s shop in 1899, carried on the business until shortly before his death in 1976. The store stayed in the Faigan family until 1980.

Malcolm and Lesley James closed the store in 1989, but within forty-eight hours, $30,000 was raised from about a hundred households to buy the stock and plant. The enterprise has been owned by community shareholders ever since, with Judith Omond as manager.

The ‘Lonely Graves’ are a famous feature of the area and a poignant reminder of the courage and
compassion of the pioneers.

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By Don Donovan