The service and smiles of yesteryear

When Graeme Duckett was a boy Fletchers competed with Johnsons for the Waitara meat dollars.
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When Graeme Duckett was a boy Fletchers competed with Johnsons for the Waitara meat dollars.

 OPINION: It's sad to see the demise of personal service in most shops we enter today.

Younger staff can only help if what you're wanting has a part number or model code and are baffled with the description of what you want unless they physically see the item you need. Knowledge is a wonderful thing.

The corner dairy and the butcher are prime examples of loyalty to the shop owner. Your parents patronised the same shops and stayed loyal to the store even if it changed owners provided the service was the same as you'd been used to.

Here in Waitara we had Fletchers and Johnsons butcher shops who had their same loyal customers throughout the many years they ran. Great rivalry, a bit like Newton Kings and the Farmers Co-Op.

Fuel stations too were, and still are, patronised by people who go to their favourite to gas-up, although not to the degree it was in my youth.

Today they compete with not only petrol and diesel prices but offer groceries, medicines and fast foods and were responsible for the demise of the corner dairy to a large extent.

Kibby's service station was a long running garage in Waitara and has an interesting history.

Originally Arthur James Kibby was a saddler and harness maker in Waitara starting in 1906 in shop number three in McLean St, which was a three shop complex, shop number one being on the corner of McLean and Queen streets.

As his business grew a larger shop was required and he moved in to shop number one in 1912 on the corner,and by 1919 he'd taken over shop number two of the complex next door, moving into car accessories and as agent for Maxwell motor cars, as well as continuing with his saddlery business.

Most cars had soft tops well into the late 1920s, so his saddlery business became second fiddle to hood and upholstery repairs. He was also new car agent for Willys-Knight by then.

The first petrol pumps were installed in January 1926. Prior to this all fuel came in tins.

In 1927 the three shop complex made way for the two-storeyed building that survives today. Upstairs you can see club symbols plastered along the top face.

The upstairs was let to the early Soldiers and Civilians Club (forerunner of the R.S.A) where veterans would meet and socialise.

By the 1930s additions were made on the Queen St side of the new building and a garage worksop was introduced. The business was known as Kibby's Garage.

In 1936 A.J Kibby left the business to start Paramount Tyre Service in New Plymouth and the garage was run by his two sons Ray and Dick and from this time on it became known as Kibby Brother's Garage.

Wages by the way were 14 shilling ($1.40) a week for an apprentice mechanic for 44 hours. A qualified mechanic got 3 pounds ($6) a week, and an A Grade mechanic received 5 pounds ($10).

Ray opened a Big Tree gas station on the corner of McLean and Blake streets  to capture traffic entering Waitara from the New Plymouth end, however it was short lived and closed.

Kibby Brothers was renamed Kibby's Service Station until 1963, becoming Kibby's Service Station Ltd, until it was taken over by Frank Sharrock and became known as Sharrock Motors in 1978.

Let's hope personal service has its day again. Nothing nicer than a friendly face with a head full of knowledge which is fast becoming a thing of the past.

 - Stuff

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