Battle to save historic store

CHARLOTTE SQUIRE
Last updated 12:58 27/05/2014
Langford Store
WILL HUTCHINSON

LIVING HISTORY: Ice-creams and old fashioned afternoon teas are a drawcard for visitors to the Langford Store.

Langford Store
WILL HUTCHINSON
STRUGGLING: Sukhita Langford is appealing for public help to preserve her family’s historic store.

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The great-granddaughter of the man who built the historic Langford Store in Bainham, Golden Bay, is asking the public to help preserve it.

Sukhita Langford is running an online crowd funding campaign to help the Langford Store keep afloat, so that generations to come can enjoy icecreams, art and old fashioned afternoon tea at the distinctive store, which is located close to the Heaphy Track.

Langford took over the shop from her aunt, Lorna Langford, six years ago.

Lorna Langford lived and worked at the shop her entire life. Lorna now lives in a rest home at the Golden Bay Integrated Family Health Centre.

While Sukhita Langford and her husband Will Hutchinson have been busy growing the business ever since they took it over in 2008, they're struggling to see the winters through and still have to shut the shop to take on extra work to keep it afloat.

"It was New Year's Day and we were like, well, where is everyone?," said Langford.

"I know there are a lot of people struggling with small business, but we think this is really a important part of New Zealand history. We'll be closing shortly for the winter to get a job."

Langford said the shop was currently losing $15,000 every year and described it as a "labour of love."

"We don't want for much, the kids have a good life. There's just no moving room."

Langford said everyone who visited the shop loves it and sees that it's something special.

"It blows me away that people can only be in the Bay 24 hours and they find our store."

She said they offered tea in fine bone china and "sensational" homemade sweet treats. After taking over from Lorna Langford they turned the storeroom into an art gallery and museum.

Despite an alarmingly slow start on New Year's Day, she said the shop is a very popular summer holiday destination.

"We believe in bringing joy to all who pass through, reminding folk of the magic of a simpler, more honest way of life, when we greeted everyone as a potential friend."

She said the business had taken "every penny" of their savings and they'd been borrowing to keep it afloat.

"Now we are unable to borrow any more. With two young children, a mortgage and full time business we are in challenging times. Meeting the shortfall of $15,000 per year will contribute to the preservation and continued running of this historic treasure over the next 10 years."

She said Edward Bates opened the shop in 1928 and eventually turned it into a post office.

"Lorna was born that year, she took over 18 years later. She ran it for 60 years.

"Really it's a credit to her that it stayed open all those years . . . near the end of her reign people came more and more to see the little old lady, than the store. She's always wanted to pass it on to a Langford," said Sukhita.

She said when she was a little girl her mother always used to romanticise about her taking over the store.

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"I believe it was all magic. I decided to do it, my one true love came along, we had two kids, it was all meant to be."

- The Nelson Mail

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