Model couple finally calls it quits
Steve and Val McDonald have been selling "big boys' toys" - everything from model railways to cars and remote-controlled aircraft - in Papakura since 1981.
So it's with sadness that the McDonalds have decided to shut up Steve's Model Shop and retire.
Mr McDonald started flying model aeroplanes at high school. He took a chance and opened the model shop after being made redundant from his job as a corporate accountant.
"My hobby became a business - and basically this has been much more low-stress compared to the corporate scene," he says.
Things have changed in the three decades since Steve set up shop originally on O'Shannessey St.
"In the 70s and 80s there were no computer games so kids were into their military modelling and war games.
"That has been replaced by your computer - Fast and Furious, bang bang, shoot 'em dead type of thing."
Val quit her job and joined Steve in the shop - a move he now calls "the silliest thing we ever did".
"When you're working together you've got nothing to talk about at night."
Val agrees. "We don't work well together. I prefer order. I like everything in rows."
But she does not regret the career move.
"Modelling was completely foreign to me when I started. Now I'm a wealth of useless information," she says.
The pair keep out of each other's way by working opposite shifts and it works just fine.
Customers range in age from 8 to 88, Steve says, and they are almost all male with a wide field of different interests. These days it is hard to compete with the huge range available online, Steve says.
"There are two things really that have stuffed us - the Government not charging GST on imports, and the internet."
But though he is sad to go the 72-year-old will not be bored at home.
"I've got enough toys to play with,"he says.
"I've got a ride-on mower, I've got two aircraft engines in the garage that need rebuilding and I've got copious amounts of old aircraft bits."
Val, 68, will be doing embroidery, spending time with the grandkids and great-grand kids, and gardening.
The McDonalds are grateful to the regulars who have supported the shop over the years.
"I'm sorry to go but it's time to move on," Steve says. "Life changes."
The shop at 299 Great South Rd will be open until mid-February. Call 299 7532 to find out more.