The increasingly dangerous business of owning a dairy

Dairies are part of the fabric of New Zealand, but as a community reels from a tragic and fatal stabbing and mounting challenges, some owners are looking to go out of business altogether, writes Anna Rawhiti-Connell in this excerpt from The Bulletin. Sign up here to receive the full Bulletin every weekday morning.

The ubiquity of dairy and its place in local communities

The term ‘dairy’ to describe a small, owner-operated convenience store is unique to New Zealand. When you travel abroad you will be looked at very strangely if you ask where “a dairy” is. I have three within 500 meters of my home and am loyal to one for the banter, which felt particularly important during lockdown. They are part of the fabric of many communities, which is really evident in photos of people gathered outside Rose Cottage dairy in Sandringham yesterday after a 34-year-old man who worked there was tragically and fatally stabbed. Kim Knight of the Herald has a moving and unedited report (with paywall) from that gathering.

Police minister asks for “please explain” about smoke guns

Police Secretary Chris Hipkins calls for calm as emotions run high. Hipkins also wants an explanation from police as to why Rose Cottage dairy has not received support from a government initiative to equip businesses with smoke guns to deter robberies. Hipkins said at the RNZ checkpoint last night that the dairy should have qualified for smoke gun funding. The local support group in the neighborhood says they have made more than one attempt to get more security at the store but police have denied their request.

Convenience store oversupply and insurance costs

Speaking to several Christchurch dairy owners yesterday, Nathan Morton of the Herald found one who will close shop and return to India regardless of whether he is able to sell his business. Others want to get out of the business but are held back by leases. Safety remains the primary concern of those Morton spoke to, but Christchurch also has a glut of convenience stores. “The market is pretty tough right now. If you put one up for sale, [the advertisement] sits there for quite a while before anyone takes an interest in it. It’s so hard to find a buyer,” said one owner. About 30 small retail stores in Hamilton are left without insurance coverage after multiple crime-related claims sent premiums and deductibles skyrocketing.

Smoke-free bill will radically change the business model of dairies

Dairy owners Morton spoke to also cited uncertainty about the impact of the Smoke-Free Environments and Regulated Products (Smoking Tobacco) Amendment Act. That will be returned by the select committee next week. The law will ban young people from ever buying tobacco in their lives, reduce nicotine levels in tobacco products to very low levels, and reduce the number of places tobacco products can be sold. I’m not sure there’s much disagreement about the net social, economic and health benefits of what has been hailed as the world’s leading legislation, but when it was announced last December it became clear that dairies needed to diversify.


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