Horace, Barvesh and family at the Paekakariki dairy. Photo copyright Mark Coote/markcoote.com

Paekākāriki Village Grocery Store

30 reasons you never need to leave the village

An introduction to one of our three key sponsors

Text: Mark Amery

Image: Mark Coote

At the heart of the small village of Paekākāriki (population est 1800) is a small grocery store akin to an Aladdin’s Cave which villagers are proud of and has been run by the same family since 1992 – they are one of three principal sponsors of this our community website. They are a key to our sustainability – for here are 30 reasons you really don’t need to cross the railway tracks to do that shopping.

  1. They act as the drop off and pick up point for Meals on Wheels. Some may notice the polystyrene box under the trolley just inside the door. So obliging and community minded, that’s our Bhavesh and Horace”  
  2. “When I first moved the village I was soooooo poor the poorest I’ve ever been and Bhavesh let me have an account so I could eat even when I couldn’t afford it and when when my daughter went in there to get her treats and train tickets Bhavesh would do her deals knowing we had no money. About eightish years ago there was a big storm and Paekākāriki was cut off and I had no supplies. I messaged Bhavesh and they made the drive on the closed road to open the store.”
  3. “A surprisingly wide variety of different glues!”
  4. “As a coeliac I need to buy gluten free bread – both supermarkets in Paraparaumu ALWAYS run out of our favourites. Bhavesh usually has it in stock though. My weekly saviour! Most gf breads suck big time”.
  5. “As a vegetarian, they’re super good, always have tofu, vege sausages, chickpeas, lentils, various beans.”
  6. “I also get Horlicks from them more often than I can find it at large super markets.”
  7. “Jesse’s Rotis!!! The best roti bread ever and super conveniently stocked at the shop!”
  8. “I suspect he hides my favourite beer in the fridge so I can always get a cold one.”
  9. “Great selection of spices from the spice rack in Petone, don’t even have to bother to go out there to get them.”
  10. “Cheapest beer and wine in Welly region.”
  11. “…the original wooden floors, reminds me of the classic 4 Square NZ dairies I frequented growing up.”
  12. “Welcome and kindness.” 
  13. “They literally have any last minute thing you need hiding in there. It’s like Mary Poppins carpet bag! Super glue, shoe laces, birthday candles, rabbit food (thank goodness!) feta cheese.”
  14. “I asked about Urud Dahl (I had never heard of it before) to try making dosa. Bhavesh’s wife sourced some in town and was there next time I went in.”
  15. “I went there for fish food once, not really expecting to find any but instead found there was a variety!”
  16. “We were invited to a post Christmas party last year and realised at the last minute it was a potluck. I wanted to make brandy snaps because they’re the easiest and quickest Christmassy thing to make but the thought of going all the way to Coastlands to get them was a living nightmare so I thought I’d just pop into the store and see what else I could get. Naturally I shopped up a storm because that’s what you do in that store then lo and behold on the biscuit shelf next to the chippie rack were two packets of brandy snaps. The last two packets. And I nearly wept.”
  17. “You can get $2 bags of fruit and veges sold ‘on behalf’ after the greengrocer has closed … and pretty much anything you might have run out of and need urgently mid cooking!”
  18. “A greater variety of table salt than Pak n Save!”
  19. “Very generous with sponsorship of the Paekākariki Film Festival – Bhavesh willingly supplies us with all manner of things”
  20. “Bhavesh will order in your fav vino for you, if it’s available”
  21. “Hooked me up with so many Indian products, sweets, chillies etc.”
  22. “They have cheese slicers! We spent a fortune on some fancy piece of s**t at Moore Wilsons before I noticed they had cheese slicers.” 
  23. “I’ve always find what I need and sometimes multiple options. Organic options. Preserve and jam supplies. And I like that they try new snack products…. coconut ice popcorn and pea pod snacks and frozen dumplings. My cat’s fav petfood.”
  24. “Vogels Thin. Pae Pops. Lotto. Lime Pickle. Masquerading as F&V shop. on on on”
  25. “I mentioned gluten-free beer to Bhavesh once and next time I dropped by, there it was.” 
  26. “We discovered Ukrainian biscuits on the shelves. They’ve been firm favourites ever since.”
  27. “The Mayor of Paekākāriki, Rocky, who takes himself for a walk (with lead) to meet his constituents and hold court at the front door most days.”
  28.  “Finding they had an egg slicer.”
  29. “The little tempting lolly packets at the counter that I swear Bhavesh puts out as I’m walking in the door so when I get to the counter I can’t resist them.”
  30. “Lacto free miraka”

“If they don’t know your name yet, it’s just a matter of time.”

Today it was a toothbrush and a potato peeler, yesterday I really needed beer and cider. Tomorrow it will be chocolate, always chocolate. Oh and the bread and milk. And that amazing affordable curry in the chiller…

 This is the  the general store of a small village where locals are proud when they don’t have to venture over the tracks onto the belching highway for a good deal. And more importantly you venture out of the house to bump into neighbours and have a quick natter over the sweets counter. Welcome to pretty much Paekakariki HQ – where if they don’t know your name yet, it’s just a matter of time.

Horace took over at the Paekākāriki General Store in 1992. “April 1992” And he’s been on the shop floor ever since. “We just run it as a family business.” Today it’s Horace and Bhavesh. 

Things have grown over time. They now sell liquor, and are proud that their prices are the equal (if not the better) sometimes of Pak n Save. When Paekākāriki’s hardware store round the corner in Ames Street closed they also brought in a small range of home hardware essentials. It runs the gamut: “We can’t be a supermarket,” say Horace, “but we try to cater for everything Paekakariki people want. If we don’t have it we do our best to get it for you.”

 “This is a small community and you don’t want to compete. Mind you, its hard to please all of the people all of the time. We try to please them some of the time!”

 A few years back resident and Unity Books owner Tilly Lloyd did a study of pricing for the newspaper Paekakariki Xpressed to prove that – against people’s natural assumptions – the prices at the store were very competitive with the supermarkets when petrol was taken into account.

 “I think we’re quite cheap, because I go to my relatives stores and all that. I know what they charge and what we charge. We even have customers who say we’re cheaper than New World, and we are because I’ve got to go and buy the odd salad there and look at the prices. I won’t say everything, but some things.”

Now for that tub of ice cream…