Washington Valley Store owner Laura Jacobs with some of her popular home-made pies. Photo: Kate Russell.

Washington Valley store has a history worth celebrating

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It may look like your regular local dairy from the outside, but inside you’ll find some of the best pies in Nelson, a book swap, along with a very interesting history.

The Washington Valley Store, situated half-way down Washington Rd, was one of Nelson’s original ‘down-town’ supermarkets in the 1960s. Now, new owner Laura Jacobs is slowly bringing the old building back to life – and business is booming.

“It was very run down,” says Laura, who took over the building in April last year after moving to Nelson from Auckland with her husband.

“We’ve slowly been bringing it back to life – getting rid of the dingy blue walls and brightening it up.”

The store already has quite the following around the region, with Laura’s homemade pies flying out the door.

Coffee, ice cream, cafe food and milkshakes are also on offer, along with a community corner and ‘book swap’ initiative.

“People bring in their books, and in exchange they take one from the book shelf and return it when they are finished. It’s a great conversation starter with some of the local residents,” says Laura.

But what has really interested the new owner is the history of the building, and Laura has been hearing plenty of stories about its past from her customers.

“It was built in 1962 and was one of the only down-town supermarkets before all the big ones came to Nelson,” she says. “I’ve had a few of the old check-out girls come and see me and tell me some good stories. One lady met her husband when they worked here together in the 1970s, and another told me about how they used to deliver groceries and milk on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“In the 1980s it changed into a four-square store – and now, this is where we are at. It’s gone through a huge progression, but it nice to know it has always been a little community store.”

Laura says she wants to eventually develop the store into a cafe, adding more chairs, tables and couches, and more food to the menu.