For more than 60 years, a tiny watchmaker’s store has been an iconic location on Auckland’s Lorne Street. Now, Time on Lorne has closed down for good.
Only two years ago, Philip Green took over what he calls “one of the smallest retail shops in New Zealand” the 1.5 sq m premises then known as Timeshop.
“There was kind of a responsibility to carry on with the good service,” he says. But when “a better opportunity” came, he decided to leave.
“I left to secure my family.”
Green built a new workshop in his garage and his business is now courier-based, enabling him to be home with his kids.
“There wasn’t enough room in Lorne St.”
The watchmakers store had first opened around the end of World War II. Before Green, the three previous owners had worked there for at least a decade each.
“I remember the shop as a kid,” he says. “People have been coming back to the shop for more than 30 years. They even came up from Hamilton.”
Green says the rent had already jumped from what the previous owner had paid but he was still able to make a good living from it.
However, when the landlord told him the rent was going to triple, there was no way to keep the business, he says.
“It’s gonna be missed.”
Green says it is sad another sandwich place might replace the venerable shop.
Before Green, Malcolm Campbell had run the shop for 22 years before retiring. He remembers Lorne St from the very beginning.
“It was an old backstreet. In the early days there were only sort of warehouses,” he says.
“Those were the streets that came up from the wharf. The shoreline must have been about Shortland St.”
Seeing the watch store close down “is quite a shame”, he says.
Campbell also remembers the two owners before him, running the shop for more than 10 and 30 years respectively.
“I had my eye on it for quite some time,” he says.
“I built up quite a huge business. When people come back after two years, they are repeat customers in this business.”
Even though he is officially retired now, the relation to his clients goes on, Campbell says.
“Some of my customers have tracked me down. My life is just about as busy.”