06 February 2011

10 Inverness Road, Browns Bay, North Shore, New Zealand

Woolworths Browns Bay

Once upon a time, this was a well-loved (if a little shabby) local supermarket. It had served the elderly community of Browns Bay (seriously, you only shopped there if you were 50 years old or older) for about 30 years, and is of particular interest to me considering that I worked there for two years. It closed down on the 28th of September 2008, and has very quickly fallen into a derelict state. As I understand it, the supermarket chain Progressive Enterprises held the lease on this place up until last year. Now, presumably, the lease has expired and this place is just sitting here dingily.

As of January 2011, the outside of the place is ... honestly not much different to what it was like when it was open, actually. The old Woolworths branding has been taken down, but the outline is still visible on the side of the shop. However, head around to the front entrance and things are quite different. One of the glass doors has been smashed, offering a tantalising glimpse into what used to be the checkout area. I saw that the old customer service desk (which was held together with tape when I worked there, incidentally) was still standing in a rather forlorn manner. 

Though the windows at the front of the shop were once covered in brown paper, it has fallen down over the years to reveal a very lonely old supermarket interior. All the old flooring has been pulled up, but the old signs for the meat counter and so on remain. We even spotted one of the old Woolworths trolleys, trapped inside and watching the world go by. 

Soon enough, I imagine this place will be pulled down and replaced by the same soulless high-rise apartments that are ruining most other seaside towns in New Zealand. I'm honestly not sure what would be more of an eyesore - at least the apartments will actually be useful. This thing is right in the middle of Browns Bay, for god's sake - you'd think prime land like that would have been snapped up by developers much earlier. Until then, however, I'll keep going past it every time I go back to New Zealand and wishing I could get inside. I'd love to check out the stockroom, since the windows are currently covered with old fuel discount posters, and I'd kill to get upstairs and check out the lunchroom and cash office. When I worked there, there was an old magazine in a drawer dating from the 1970s. I'd bet good money that it's still there. I could probably sell half of this stuff to the museum. 

Still, we must all remember that this place wouldn't have ended up abandoned in the first place if the bright sparks at Progressive hadn't decided to build another supermarket just across the road from it several years ago. That's in addition to the OTHER supermarket on the other side of town. A small beachside town does not require three supermarkets!

Rating: Damnable

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