Move to take over retailer ‘meant to be’

Nicki and Dan Garthwaite and their children Brooklyn, 9, and Madison, 6, have moved from Auckland...
Nicki and Dan Garthwaite and their children Brooklyn, 9, and Madison, 6, have moved from Auckland to Te Anau. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
He might be 200-odd kilometres from actual Paradise, but Dan Garthwaite reckons he has found his nirvana.

Mr Garthwaite and wife Nicki are the new owners of Te Anau Mitre 10, and have made the move from New Zealand’s largest city to a small but bustling town.

It is a move real estate agents are describing as fairly common as people re-evaluate their lives after Covid-19 and are more open to moving around the country.

Mr Garthwaite is a born-and-bred Aucklander who got a taste for business ownership when he had a small shareholding in his father-in-law’s business.

He was brought in to help modernise it and get it ready for sale, after which he returned to the "corporate world".

But having that taste of working for himself, he discovered it was difficult returning to a large corporate where rules had to be followed.

So he started looking up and down the country for a business to buy.

"I didn’t care where, I just knew I wanted to get out of Auckland," he said.

From a timber treatment plant "in the middle of nowhere", to a pizza outlet, petrol stations, liquor stores and a powder-coating business, he would take the suggestions home to his wife who was not always keen on their locations.

But when Mitre 10 popped up for sale in Te Anau, after 32 years under the same ownership, his wife said she had always liked the town.

"It was pretty much meant to be," he said.

Married in Queenstown in 2014, the couple had only been to Te Anau briefly.

But they took the plunge and moved south and Mr Garthwaite took over as branch manager at the beginning of last month.

The deal has gone unconditional and the couple hoped to take over the store at the beginning of April.

Mr Garthwaite used to spend two hours a day in a car in Auckland travelling to and from work and that was on a good day. Now he had a four-minute commute.

"You just think all that time is just absolutely wasted. It’s brilliant now; I’ve just nipped home for lunch," he said.

While they might miss the big city convenience of still being able to find dinner at 10pm, they had adapted to small-town New Zealand and had fallen for both the bustling town and its supportive, welcoming community.

During the first week in their new home, Mr Garthwaite kept getting out his phone to take a photo of the view across the lake before realising that he did not have to — it was not going anywhere.

Their two young daughters, who were previously at a private school in Auckland, were enjoying the "absolutely brilliant" local school.

DIY was something Mr Garthwaite had always enjoyed and the couple had renovated houses in Auckland.

He was a regular visitor to Mitre 10 and he quipped the acquisition of the store was going to be "a lot cheaper" on his wallet.

There had definitely been an uptake in DIY interest since the arrival of Covid-19.

DIY would always be in New Zealanders’ DNA, he said.