A one-of-a-kind Levin business is closing its doors after 17 years. After making "millions" of home made cards for birthdays, wedding invitations, anniversaries and Mothers Day's, the half-price closing down sign is up.
No one thought it would last. When Yvonne Meyer first opened a store selling her homemade cards and albums, few believed she could make the hobby pay.
The location of her Hare to Scrap'n Stamp store in Bledisloe St, Levin - next to a diary and a fish and chip shop - was in a corner of town that was off the beaten track and with no foot traffic.
And anyway, cards and albums were cheap enough to buy at the chain stores. Or so you might think ...
"I think when I first opened everyone laughed and probably thought she won't be here for long ... and all these years later," she said.
Meyer and husband Ian first came to Levin 23 years ago.
With a sparkle in her eye and a love for her craft, she started card and album making classes in a hired hall. Then a house, sometimes with 20 to a class.
"It grew like topsy," she said.
Meyer opened a shop, where she could continue to hold classes and sell her wares.
The magic was in giving and receiving something that was handmade. It was the personal touch that made it more than just a card and a kind wish.
Some of her customers had bought cards every year. Some bought in bulk - as many as 20 at once - enough to cover the calendar year.
One customer had bought Christmas cards for her children every year, and phoned the other day to tell Meyer she was chuffed to learn they had kept them.
Another customer missed sending cards one Christmas. Her children called and asked why.
"To me, that's really special. That somebody would keep something that you had made," she said.
The cards themselves could be personalised with names and messages. Some could pop out, with many of the flowers pronounced, giving a three-dimensional effect.
One card was made for a woman whose friend had lost her dog. She had brought in a photo of the dog, and it was made into a picture that could adorn the wall.
"You are only limited by your imagination," she said.
There were quiet times. Sometimes she might not see a customer all morning, or only sell a few cards in a week. But then fortunes would turn.
"A man three days ago bought four cards," she said.
Meyer had deliberately kept the card price low - $5 for all cards.
"I could have sold them for $10 or $15, but if it's too high people won't come back," she said.
There was a newspaper article in 'Horowhenua Chronicle' not long after she first opened. It was feature about women in business. But apart from that, Meyer had never widely advertised.
"It's all been word of mouth," she said.
"I still have people coming in saying "we didn't realise that you were here'," she said.
While the shop was closing she would continue with the classes. They were $10, and that covered materials. She held children's classes, too.
Ian and Yvonne have four children. Whenever there was a new addition in the family, a special photo album was made.
She was proud that her seven grandchildren had all toyed with crafts and served time behind the counter.
She gave them all references as they applied for other jobs, and had been called numerous times by prospective employees, never letting on they were related.
"They didn't need to know I was their grandmother, did they," she said.
"I paid them. They worked hard and learnt about handling cash and the eftpos machine. It was a good experience for them."
Meyer said it wasn't the type of business where she had made her millions, but she had been able to make a living and pay the rent.
"I've never taken a big wage out of it, but I've never gone broke," she said.
She sits at a table behind the front counter. The shop walls are lined with colourful cards. She also stocked card and album making materials.
The shop had always opened six days a week, although at 10am rather than 9am in recent times.
The door bell rings, and it's Irene paying a visit. She's brought feijoas, and chocolate.
Irene was one of Meyer's first customers and had visited her at the store ever since.
Meyer, 76, said she wasn't getting any younger and it was time to shut the door.
The closing date is May 15 - just in time for one more Mother's Day - and clearance specials are advertised in the window.
"I'm just getting older, that's all. I'm really going to miss it," she said.
"It's very much a social thing. I've had ladies coming to classes for six or seven years, every week, a lot from out of town. We chat and talk. I've made a lot of really, really good friends."
"I am finding it very difficult to say goodbye to everybody. It's going to be really hard leaving."
"It's the social side I really love. I am badly going to miss my customers. A lot come in and sit down and have a chat. I have made so many good friends throughout the years."
"I've made so many wonderful friends, all through card making."
So, as the door shuts, there could be an album made to house all the Hare to Scrap'n Stamp memories. The word album doesn't sit well with Meyer, though.
"They're memory books," she said.