When I first asked Tara Patel, owner of Herne Bay Post and Stationers, if I could interview her for the Ponsonby News, she declined.
Her family urged her to tell her story, and I’m glad they did.
Tara Patel is one of the longest-serving business people in the Herne Bay shopping complex.
Before taking over the Post Shop and the next door stationers, Tara, with her husband, ran the Kelmarna Dairy.
She worked in Wellington for lawyers, transferring to the same Auckland City law firm before venturing into her current businesses in April 1989. She still has family in her father’s Wellington dairy.
Six months later I started the Ponsonby Community News letter, now, as Ponsonby News, in its 30th year. But that is another story!
The Patels bought locally, and Tara still lives in the same house they bought in 1981. I followed with home ownership in Herne Bay in 1990. I don’t think any other businesses than Tara Patel’s business existed then, although Andrew came to Novel soon after that.
Major changes in postal services and smaller margins have drastically changed since 1989, and Tara has had to absorb many of them. People no longer write letters: parcels have surpassed letters. They never have to leave home to email their clients, friends or family.
Still, Herne Bay Post and Stationers is one of the busiest post shops in Auckland. Christmas sales are among the best of Auckland’s 70 post centres.
Tara misses the elderly customers who have departed Herne Bay. They were some of her best customers.
With all the uncertainty around Auckland Council future directions, rampant bureaucracy, unwanted bike lanes, and ever increasing numbers of new apartment blocks, Tara Patel is nervous about the future of small businesses like hers. She is not hopeful of future customers from the new high rises. “They don’t post letters,” she told me.
Rates are up, landlords keep upping rents, and people are busier than ever.
Still, Tara Patel has a loyal following, devoted customers, who she knows by name when they come in the door.
This hardworking local business woman along with her son Hamesh, and daughters Prashila and Vanisha’s help, is quiet, yet warm and friendly when you get to know her. She goes methodically about her long work hours, and takes things as they come. She is an asset to our community, who still believes in the word community, particularly the one she has got to know so well in the last 30 years.
We post 300 copies of PN each month and always get our stamps from Tara. We at Ponsonby News wish her well. (JOHN ELLIOTT)
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