Owners' retirement spells end for historic New Plymouth store

Shirley and Fraser Mackenzie are closing The Bag Shop which they have owned for 44 years.
Shirley and Fraser Mackenzie are closing The Bag Shop which they have owned for 44 years.

An historic New Plymouth retailer will stop trading in the new year.

After 77 years in business, The Bag Shop is having its closing down sale.

The Bag Shop has been operating under the Mackenzie name since it first opened in 1935.

Shirley and Fraser Mackenzie, both 86, have owned The Bag Shop since they took it over from Mr Mackenzie's late father Charles Mackenzie in 1968.

The couple said they were closing the Devon St West shop and selling the building because they were finally ready for retirement.

Which was unfortunate timing because trading at The Bag Shop was better than it had ever been, Mr Mackenzie said.

"I don't think we've ever had more people in the shop," Mr Mackenzie said.

His father Charles Mackenzie first opened the business on Devon St and relocated to Egmont St during World War II.

"He was a lovely guy," Mrs Mackenzie said.

After losing his job in Wellington during The Great Depression, Mr Mackenzie snr moved to Taranaki and set up the business selling leather and equipment to boot makers.

When the Mackenzies took over in 1968, they relocated the business to Devon St West and in 1987 they demolished the old premises and built a new two storey building.

The couple, who have been married for 62 years, were looking forward to retirement.

Mr Mackenzie had a clear idea about what he would do once retired.

"I thought I would find a paddock with long grass, lie on my back and watch the clouds go by."

The business had been a great occupation and performed well, he said.

"It's a challenge and it's a good little business."

The other day one person alone bought five suitcases, he said.

When the Taranaki Daily News visited last week there was barely time for an interview, they were so busy.

Over the years The Bag Shop had always stocked quality products made in Europe, the United States and, of course, New Zealand.

"We try to keep good stock with reasonable prices."

When it came to running a successful retail business staff were the most important thing, Mr Mackenzie said.

"In retail it's your staff that count."

Pauline Clarke, who worked at The Bag Shop for more than 30 years, said the Mackenzies were great employers. "The time has whizzed by," Clarke said. "The older you get the faster it goes."

She said she was ready for retirement and was looking forward to "hanging up her duster".

"No, it's been lovely working here with two such good bosses."

Taranaki Daily News