Time to hand over the reins

PGG Wrightson’s long-serving Mosgiel store manager Chris Bayne is retiring next month. Photo by...
PGG Wrightson’s long-serving Mosgiel store manager Chris Bayne is retiring next month. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
For many years, Chris Bayne has been something of an institution at PGG Wrightson’s Mosgiel store.

So, come September 2,  it will be the end of an era as Mrs Bayne (65) works her last day as store manager.

However, she remained philosophical about leaving a role that has been a big part of her life, saying simply it was "time to go".

"I just think sometimes you work too long and you retire and, all of a sudden, your health goes to the pack. It’s nice to hand the reins over to someone else ...  you can’t work forever," she said.

It was 33 years ago that Mrs Bayne started working part-time in the Reid Farmers store in Dunedin, a job that worked well as it allowed her to also help out at Riding for the Disabled where she became head instructor.

So when one of her bosses told her he was waiting for her to apply for a job in Mosgiel, she said she did not want to work full-time.

The next day he told her he was waiting for her CV, to which she quickly retorted that she had "never done one" in her life and did not intend doing one now.

On the third day, he asked if she wanted the job or not and, after talking to her husband Les, she decided to take it.

After three or four years, she was asked to manage the store.

Much had changed over the years and it was very different from when she first arrived, including technology and goods stocked in the store.

When she first started, computers were not in use.

"Everything was written down, I didn’t know what computers were," she said.

And when computers finally did arrive, she decided after a week that she could not be bothered any more, picked up her handbag and was preparing to leave — before deciding to go back and persevere.

The store used to stock everything from crystal and women’s underwear to suitcases,  sheets, toasters and towels. 

There was a garden department and staff mixed small bags of fertiliser, along with vegetable seeds.

Keen on horses, the store had become "horsey-orientated" since she had been there, stocking horse feed, supplements and gear.

There was a strong following of local horse trainers, along with pleasure riders and pony clubbers.

"I have enjoyed it. I enjoy the company and the people. I’m sort of a people-person . . . and it’s been a challenge," she said.

The store, on Factory Rd, attracted a lot of foot traffic and it also served many lifestyle block owners.

There were many funny stories, including about the woman  who one day asked for a few rubber rings.

Her husband had already applied rings to their small flock of lambs, but she could not bear the sound of their bleating, so she  cut them all off.

Her husband duly dispatched her to get some more.Sometimes, people came in for advice and discovered they could buy small quantities of things they required, such as animal drenches — and rubber rings, Mrs Bayne laughed.

The job had also been very social and she had been lucky to have worked with good people, she said.

Her boss, Mike Kwiat, was employed by Mrs Bayne as her "store boy" 20 years ago.

Now, the roles was reversed.

Describing her as having a "heart of gold", Mr Kwiat said she had a "way with clients" and went above and beyond to fill their needs.

She was also a true team player.

Mrs Bayne was looking forward to spending more time in her garden and she was also keen to "just get out and go and do things".

She is  the long-serving trail boss of the Tussock Creek light wagon trail on the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust’s Cavalcade.

She and her husband were veterans of the annual event, with Mr Bayne having taken part every year since its inception in 1991, while his wife missed only that first year.

She was looking forward to next year’s 25th anniversary event, which will finish in Omakau on March 4.

There was a very enthusiastic group organising the finale in Omakau and she hoped  former cavalcaders would "come out of the woodwork" and support the event.

Three on her trail — Alice Sinclair, Brenda Harland and Mr Bayne — would be celebrating taking part in all 25.

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