Possibly New Zealand’s most passionate Four Square franchisees are bringing their love of food retailing to Matakana, taking over the reins from Damian Langley, who recently moved to Coromandel.
Brad and Claire Walker discussed their dream of owning a Four Square on their very first date more than 10 years ago, when he was a banker and she was a nanny. They say their ‘now or never’ decision to take over the store at Ohope Beach, near Whakatane, two years ago was the best thing they ever did.
They transformed that store from a basic corner dairy into a thriving grocery store complete with bakery, and they’re now bringing their enthusiasm and ideas to Matakana.
“Work is like a hobby for us. We never get up and say, ‘Oh no, we’ve got to work today’,” they say. “We work with each other seven days a week and live with each other, but we just love it.
“We’ve got plenty of ideas, but we want to take time to settle in, meet the locals, get through the height of summer, and make sure those ideas will work. What Damian has set up works really well, so we’ll adopt as much of it as possible before we start making any changes.
“But we would like to have a bakery at some stage and do more ‘food to go’, like hot chickens.”
Having originated from Auckland, they are no strangers to the area and both have spent happy holidays at family baches in Omaha. Having lived and worked at Ohope, they are used to the ebb and flow of retailing in a holiday region.
Any time away from the shop is spent with their two sons, Joshua, 10, and Tyler, 9, both of whom are keen competitive swimmers.
“We’re real family people, we love hanging out with family and friends,” they say. “Our two main loves are our work and our boys.”