Two brazen robbers wielding an axe and crowbar made off with cash, cigarettes and Instant scratchies when they held up a Hamilton mini mart, but they didn't count on members of the public filming them and almost foiling their escape.

The incident unfolded about 7pm on Thursday at the Bader St Mini Mart when the two balaclava-clad men threatened a shop assistant, demanding he open the till.

A woman customer in the dairy raised the alarm when she raced outside yelling: "He's got an axe".

Moments earlier a Hamilton couple unwittingly pulled up alongside the getaway car, a two-door black Nissan Pulsar.

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The driver, who only wanted to be known as Brendan, parked his car and entered a nearby takeaway shop when the commotion began.

"They had obviously got out of the vehicle just before we turned up. I've got out and gone to the takeaways and this lady has run out [of the dairy] and said 'He's got an axe, he's got an axe'."

The owner of the dairy, Jaspreet Singh was at the park with his children, but his brother Tarageet Singh ran from his bottle shop next door into the dairy with a hockey stick.

The two assailants turned on him and began to attack, forcing the man to make a hasty retreat.

"My partner was in the car so I've run back to the car to get out of there but as I've jumped in the car the two guys have run out of the store," Brendan said.

At the same time bystanders were noting the getaway vehicle's number plate, calling the police on their mobile phones, and capturing the drama on video.

"Then a guy on the street who was calling the police at the time decided to be the hero and drove his car behind the guys that were trying to get away, to block them in."

It meant Brendan and his partner, now concerned for their own safety, also could not reverse out of the carpark to leave.

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"At the time we were in the car next to them going, 'Oh my God, get out of his way'. He was parked right next to us and if he gets out he could start slashing and beating people up."

The robbers tried to reverse-ram their way out of the angle park, smashing into the car blocking their escape, but it was no good, they were momentarily trapped.

"Then they've driven forward onto the pavement, in between the shop and a [sign] post and a rubbish bin. They've smashed into the shop, smashed into the pole and they've got stuck there.

"They were right in front of us and they were stuck and they couldn't open their doors. They were freaking out. We could see them looking from side to side and starting to panic."

Finally the robbers managed to reverse out and take off, much to Brendan's relief.

The man who blocked the robbers gave chase in his car and police soon arrived at the scene, taking the video into evidence.

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Brendan, who only moved to Hamilton a week ago, said the incident was frightening but surreal because it took place in broad daylight and with so many witnesses.

Singh said the 21-year-old shop assistant was in shock after the ordeal.

"They were in here for two-and-a-half minutes. One of them had a crowbar and the other one had a small axe [tomahawk].

"One of them came around behind the counter and told him to open the till. He took all the cash out and a lot of the smokes. They had two bags. Then when they were finished there they came to the Lotto till and took the float from there."

Singh said it was obvious the pair had cased the dairy prior to the robbery because one went to a back store room and damaged the camera surveillance system so there would be no footage of them robbing the shop.

When his brother, who owns the Thirsty Liquor bottle shop next door, ran in with the hockey stick, Singh said the thieves turned on him with their weapons and he fled.

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He said the local who gave chase followed the pair into a dead-end street which suggested they did not know the area.

The car was found dumped in a driveway in nearby Montgomery Cres but Singh said he understood it was not stolen.

Hamilton Police Detective Sergeant Scott Neilson said he believed the offenders dumped the vehicle and fled on foot through neighbouring properties, and inquiries into their whereabouts are ongoing.