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.

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