But sadly, there is a ‘something’ and ‘someone’ for whom the chapter is closing, chapter perhaps being the operative word, because on 24th December Mairangi Bay stalwarts, Christine and Malcolm Mitchell will close the doors to their Take Note store and its superlative collection of books for the last time.

This leaves accounting firm MacKinlay Dennison as the village’s longest-serving business because it was over 30 years ago, in July 1988, that Christine and Malcolm made a sea change and moved into retail. They bought what was then Patterson’s Stationery - in the spot now taken up by Vegeland - bought a little white van emblazoned ‘Malcolm’s Books & Stationery’ and threw themselves into their new venture. It all went well; it was fun, and Christine got to indulge herself in her love of children’s literature.

That little white van became a fixture around the area, bustling into work each morning from the couple’s home at Hauraki Corner (Takapuna). In the days when the Christmas parade was an even bigger affair, sponsored by the Lions Club, unfettered by too much Council paperwork, road closures and other Grinch-like obstructions, and local businesses constructed their own floats and vied for the best, that gutsy little van would be slap-bang in the thick of it all, pulling one the floats Malcolm and his friends had constructed. Their best float by far, reckons Christine, was a pirate ship they built with the help of their friend, Jules, an Air NZ engineer, which boasted an impressive sail Jules found under their house. Their own children, Isabel and Cameron, and the children
of their friends (as well as any other small person within grabbing distance, sometimes) would man the float, all dressed the part. For several years, Malcolm was also Santa for the parade, probably the leanest Santa ever seen.

Christmas floats and small white vans aside, Malcolm and Christine’s whole career in Mairangi Bay has been quite a ride. From its initial branding, the store was brought into the then Topline chain until the emerging Paper Plus brand created Take Note, part of the co- operative franchise group. This was an independent choice for those needing IT/accounting and buying power without one-size-fits-all.

“It’s been so much fun, I can’t even begin to tell you,” reminisces Christine. “We’ve had parties and dress-ups, hosted authors such as Nadia Lim, supported Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust, met some wonderful artists and illustrators and looked forward every year to our Christmas party. And throughout all this, we have had some wonderful staff members who became like family to us, many of whom are still in our lives.”

“There was a time a few years ago, when we were pottering down the harbour in our boat, that we wondered if we should retire, but we decided not to. In hindsight perhaps, we should have because now Malcolm has been hit with some bad health; there was COVID, the flood in January, which damaged the building, and now the downturn in retail that many are suffering from. The damaged building means we no longer have insurance, so we cannot sell. Unfortunately, that means we simply close and walk away.”

“I’m beyond sad about this, not least because we couldn’t talk the Post Office into staying or even relocating to a different part of the village. It seems their decision to close Post Shops nationwide now includes Mairangi Bay. This will be a great blow for the community.”

But if there’s one thing, one memory, that Christine and Malcolm will take with them, it is the resilience of Mairangi Bay. They have watched children grow up and have families of their own, who they now bring into the shop to buy books as their parents did before them. There is a significant number of older residents who are, says Christine, so gutsy and such an inspiration. Everybody is caring – it’s not unusual for customers to bring flowers and even baking into the shop in thanks for a service provided or simply just because.

“Things have changed a lot in the village – the range of shops, the loss of staple providers such as hardware and other basic goods providers – but what hasn’t changed really, is the people. Everybody cares and are so welcoming. We shall really, really miss being part of this community.”