Jack Wu felt that if he didn't fight back, he would die.

An alleged beating from a man wielding a home-made mace forced him to the floor. Wu says the pain was searing.

But with nothing more than his body to protect him, Wu did everything in his power to stop the alleged attacker rob the Discount Tobacco store he owns on Charles St, Hastings, just before 5pm last Saturday.

The other half of the weapon, which broke on the impact of hitting the store owner. Photo / Supplied.
The other half of the weapon, which broke on the impact of hitting the store owner. Photo / Supplied.

The realisation that something was not right had come just seconds before.

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Usually a quiet time of the day, he had decided to take cardboard out to the front of his store, when what he thought was a "normal customer" approached him at the entrance.

"I said 'you go first' and he didn't say anything, he was just standing there. So I went first and once I go inside, I suddenly felt not right - he was following me too close," Wu said.

About a second later, the man revealed a pole from underneath his hoodie.

"He hit me down to the ground, behind the counter," Wu told the Hawke's Bay Today.

"And I tried to fight him for several minutes."

During that time, Wu says, the mace's pole broke so the man held on to the counter to attempt to kick him.

Before the alleged offender was able to grab any items or money, several customers entered the store and scared him away.

Police and ambulance arrived on the scene shortly after.

Although Wu did not need to go to hospital, he received extensive bruising and other moderate injuries.

It wasn't until after the attack, when he saw the mace lying on the ground, broken in two by the impact of the beating, that he realised the seriousness of what had unfolded.

Wu has been around the block. He has owned the store for about five years and has been robbed numerous times.

However, two years ago, he was held at knifepoint by two men.

Despite not being injured, it unnerved him to the point where he looked over his shoulder for more than a year, and had a cage installed around the counter.

As the cage had been unlocked when the man came in, and Wu was the only person in the store, it proved to be of no use.

Now, Wu has been left scared yet again.

Despite the repeated attacks, Wu says it is "not so easy" to just leave the business.

On Wednesday, Keri Anthony Phillips, 50, was arrested in relation to the incident and charged with assault with intent to rob and injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

His arrest came after police executed a search warrant in Hastings.

He appeared in Hastings District Court on Thursday and was remanded in custody without plea, to reappear later in January.