Back in 1899, a bookstore called Bennetts, owned by the local Bennett family, was established in provincial Palmerston North, a couple of hours' drive north of Wellington. It was the shop where just about all the books of my childhood came from -- getting a book token for Christmas or a birthday meant a delicious hour sorting through shelves crammed with tempting literature ... Milly Molly Mandy, Little Women, and all that wicked stuff by Enid Blyton.
Later, it was where I bought my university textbooks. And I had that much-missed, long-departed short story magazine, Argosy, on permanent order. It took me the whole month to save up the half-crown that it cost, but it was worth it.
Then, in 1988 (a strangely coincidental shifting around of the figures of the date of its birth) the store was taken over by the first of a series of robber barons. By February 2011, when REDgroup-owned Whitcoulls was placed in receivership, Bennetts was part of the package.
Now it is back in local ownership. Geoff Spong, the New Zealander who established Vol 1, a university textbook chain, has bought Bennetts for an undisclosed sum.
He intends to make it campus focused, but will keep up the flagship Bennetts Government Bookshop on the northernmost corner of Lambton Quay.
I'm so pleased about that. The staff there are the oldfashioned kind who obviously love books, and will go to immense trouble to find you the book you want, or advise you if you're not sure.