Tawa’s Chins retiring – ‘It’s 13 years overdue’
An era comes to a close this weekend as Tawa Fruit Mart’s Chin family farewell the business after 31 years.
Kim Chee Chin, known as Chee, and his wife Zia Kuen Chin, known as Jean, have decided at the ages of 78 and 76 to sell the business they opened in November 1981.
‘‘Our retirement has nothing to do with the business, it’s our age,’’ Mr Chin says. ‘‘It’s 13 years overdue.’’
The couple still regularly haul 18 kilogram boxes of produce around the shop, and put their sprightliness down to eating vegetables at every meal.
The Chin family – Jean and Chee and their eight children – are a mainstay of Tawa’s Main Rd, with a slew of regulars who visit four times a week.
‘‘We know so many people, so many customers. When we go out on the street we know everybody. Everybody’s so nice,’’ Mr Chin says.
The grocery business is a real family affair. The Chin children grew up in the shop, sleeping out back in the storage room as babies, then helping out after school and at weekends. At Christmas time the 10-strong family would man all decks to deal with the holiday rush. Son Ming still works at the shop full-time, and his brothers and sisters will return to work in the shop one last time this Saturday.
After immigrating from southern China in 1957, Mr and Mrs Chin worked at Mr Chin’s parents’ fruit shop in Miramar before opening their own shop in Ngaio in 1971. Short on space, they relocated to Tawa a decade later.
The couple hasn’t thought too much about how they’ll spend their retirement, beyond a visit to their hometown of Taishan. ‘‘We’ve got plenty of time to think about it,’’ Mr Chin says.
Moving on: Tawa Fruit Mart’s Chee Chin, Jean Chin and son Ming Chin are moving on after 31 years in business on Main Rd.