Venkat Raman –
Residents of Pakuranga, Highland Park, Howick and East Tamaki often ask, “How long has this Corner Shop on Reeves Road been in existence?”
The answer would always be, “As long as we can remember,” or “We have no idea; we came to this place only 25 years ago.”
Superettes, Convenience Stores, Diaries or Corner Stores as they are called, are known by their neighbourhood and those running them become endearing members of the local community. For, it is not uncommon to strike a conversation with the person you see every morning or evening when you drop in to pick up your daily newspaper, milk or your favourite fortnightly newspaper.
Not knowing the owner or manager of such a store is not an option or even exception.
Again, it is not uncommon to ask the person at the Corner Store if he or she would help you or someone in your family find a job; or even a house.
That is how close these people get to residents of a locality.
Penchant for service
It is therefore no surprise that Kantilal Patel and his wife Manjula (Mandy) are well known for their friendliness and willingness to go an extra mile to help.
That is literally the case. If you do not find your choice milk or cheese or vegetables, do not be surprised if they ask you to return in the evening or the next morning; they would ensure that you have your preferred item.
Four Square Supermarket that they own and manage at 114 Reeves Road, Pakuranga Heights, celebrated its 30th anniversary under their regime on September 30, 2016. It was business as usual for the couple but to hundreds of visitors, it was a special day dedicated to a special couple.
Chris Quin, Chief Executive (North Island), Foodstuffs Company which owns the Four Square brand (which is a part of the Cooperative including Pak N Save and New World) said that the Pakuranga operation has grown substantially since the Patel couple purchased the business in 1986.
“I am happy to participate in the 30th anniversary celebrations of this supermarket. I am happy to note that that this supermarket has grown to become an important part of the community in East Auckland. The store provides a wide range of products at great pries,” he said.
Similar praise came from Andrew Loeser, Banner Manager, Four Square, as he greeted the Patel family.
Kantibhai said that the Four Square Store has been a proud part of the long-standing iconic Kiwi brand.
“We have been ‘the local’ for New Zealand communities since 1924. Therefore, whether you are keeping it local or on tour, we are here to make it easy for you. Become a local and shop where all Kiwis love to shop. You are always welcome to our Four Square supermarket,” he said.
He said that the Four Square is the oldest supermarket in Pakuranga established 44 years ago.
“As well as providing quality products, Four Square challenges the larger supermarkets in product range or prices. Our range includes produce, grocery, deli and frozen goods, health and beauty products and other household items. We have been the proud providers of the products used by our neighbouring communities,” Kantibhai said.
Operating such a supermarket may afford convenience to the public but not really so for those owning and managing it; for, the demand on time, patience, perseverance and performance could be too much to bear that the fact that Kantibhai and Manjula have been at it for more than 30 years is a tribute to their spirit of enterprise.
Their daughter Sangita moved to San Francisco in United States of America more than 15 years ago following her marriage. She has a daughter Keira, who will celebrate eight years of age in January 2017.
Their son Prajay worked at a commercial bank in New Zealand and Australia for about ten years before returning to New Zealand to join the family business.
“He hopes to continue learning and developing his career as a grocer under Foodstuffs and advance his career,” Kantibhai said.
Kantibhai attributes the success of his supermarket to his hard working team and to customers who have been loyal over the years.
“I am grateful especially to Norma Pateman, who retired after 22 years of service with us. She now lives in Pukekohe,” he said.
His wife Manjula began her working career at New World and brought to the family enterprise her grocery buying, finance and human resources skills.
“Providing quality products and service is our culture, philosophy and motto. Irrespective of the weather, other developments, day or night, public holiday or working day, our supermarket is open to public and we provide more than just groceries, vegetables and other daily needs. Our Four Square store also provides domestic and international postal service, fax, copying and email and scanning service,” he said.
For many years, Kantibhai held a number of positions including that of Secretary, Public Relations Committee Chair and Religious Committee Chairperson at Bal Mandir located in Balmoral.
While people from India and the Sub-Continent are assured of the brands that appease them, customers of all ethnicities can be assured of their daily milk, bread and dairy products, which are fresh and perhaps cheaper than other places.
“We are happy to see the new generation of customers shopping at our Four Square supermarket. Apart from catering to their needs, our shop hours (Monday to Thursday 7 am to 830 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 7 am to 9 pm and Sundays 730 am to 830 pm) are convenient,” Kantibhai said.
- Manjula and Kanti Patel with Andrew Loeser and Chris Quin
- Tribute to a long-timer: Manjula and Kanti Patel with Norma Pateman
- The Patel Family: Manjula, Prajay and Kanti Patel