The owners of Welcome Bay Foodmarket have been held up three times in the past 10 years but say they're not going to let the latest armed robbery break their spirits.

Police are still investigating the robbery of the Foodmarket just before 6.30pm on Wednesday.

A police spokeswoman said police were called to the shop on Welcome Bay Rd at 6.30pm.

The offender, a woman, who was armed with a knife and wearing dark clothing with her face disguised by a black mask, fled the store after taking some cash and cigarettes.

Speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times at the store yesterday, owners Kuldip Kumar and his wife said it had been a sleepless night for both of them.

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"But this store is our livelihood, so we have no choice but to open and carry on working as best we can," Kumar said.

Kumar said he was on the telephone talking to his sister when the robber walked up the pedestrian ramp and came straight up to the counter and demand he opened till.

The robber, holding a kitchen knife, put her backpack on to the counter, unzipped it and twice told him to fill it with cash and cigarettes, he said.

Kumar said when he hesitated, the robber came around to his side of the counter, walked past his wife, who was on her phone and 84-year-old mother sitting in a chair.

"She came right up close to me and held the knife out towards me and yelled at me if I didn't open the till she would stab me. She said that twice as she waved the knife at me."

"Given the knife was being held only a few inches from my side I believed she would have if I hadn't co-operated," he said.

Kumar said once the till was opened the robber grabbed some cash and several packets of cigarettes from a nearby cabinet and stuffed them into the backpack.

As the robber fled the store some of the cigarettes spilt on to the floor, and the woman scooped them up before she calmly walked off, he said.

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Kumar said most of the offender's lower face was covered by a black Halloween type cloth mask with a skull on it and her black hoodie was pulled up over her head.

"I believe the robber was possibly in her late 20s or early 30s, and once she had what she wanted she just walked off out of the store," he said.

Kumar's wife said she saw the woman get into a "getaway car" which had been parked in James Cook Drive,

Kumar's wife, who asked not to be named, said: "It's very frustrating for my husband I and annoying as we work seven days a week, 14 hour days.

"We spend more time in the store than we spend at home, only to have someone come in and think they can take some of our hard-earned money from the till," she said.

Kumar said he and his wife had owned the store for 21 years, and this was the third time they had been held up by someone wielding a knife since 2008.

But, Kumar said, they were determined this would not break them, and they wanted to say a huge thanks to the community for all the messages of support.

That included former customers who came into the store check they were okay.

Regular customer Sue Peterson said it was devastating to learn that Kumar and his family had been robbed again.

"Kuldip, his wife and mother are pretty special people, and they work so hard and give us such great service, they don't deserve to have something like this happen to them."

Anyone with information about the robbery is urged to call Tauranga police on 07 577 4300 or phone the Crimestoppers line anonymously on 0800 555 111.