Owaka Four Square changes hands
A generation has grown up in Owaka knowing only John and Shona Niles as owners of the Four Square supermarket, but that has come to an end with its sale.
After 30 years, first with the premises in Saunders St, then opening a new building on Ovenden Street 13 years ago , the Niles’ Four Square was so wellknown in Owaka it was referred to as ‘‘Niles’’. But now it has been sold to Ross and Pip Freeman, of Christchurch.
For 18 years prior to taking over the shop, Shona used to work for previous owners Don and Margaret Greer, making her commitment to the firm 48 years. There had been changes over the years, mainly to products and with technology.
‘‘The ready-prepared food, ready-to-go has been the main change. Everyone is so busy nowadays,’’ John said. ’’And the computerisation of everything – especially the till,’’ added Shona.
John said being in a country area meant tourists were often surprised to see trucks with dead pigs on the back or dogs barking in the parking area outside the supermarket. They also had duckshooting displays in the season, and provided bacon and egg pies each year for the mai-mais.
The Niles planned to stay in Owaka after their retirement. ’’We have two daughters in Balclutha.’’ They plan to enjoy their time away from a demanding job with 11-hour plus days, often seven days a week. They worked most weekends and public holidays. ’’Can we mention our loyal staff? You can’t run a business without good staff.’’ Some of their staff have been with them for many years, and they have regularly provided students at the local school with their first job.
The Freemans have two children in their teen years. One is a daughter on a gap year in Europe who is coming to work in the shop before going on to study art and design in Christchurch. The other is a 15-year-old son who will also work for them in the holidays.
Ross said they had been managing the New World supermarket in Ilam, Christchurch, and saw this as a good business opportunity.
‘‘Being the owner-operator of a beautiful country district supermarket is what we wanted.’’
He said the local services, such as providing home deliveries to those who need them, would continue.
‘‘It’s not broken, so why fix it?’’ He said they would be honouring all staff rosters and conditions.