And then there were none.
A month after Rotorua's oldest family business, Webbs Shoes (Our People, October 26), closed its doors the man who's almost certainly the CBD's remaining sole trader is following in its footsteps.
A week today Dave Prendergast will walk away from Pukuatua St where he's traded in two shops and under various names, most latterly Furniture Court and Bedstop, for a shade under three decades.
Dave doesn't leave retailing willingly, changing times, shopping trends and his location have forced him to quit while he's ahead – just.
His simply stated "my landlord has been very patient with me" is a sentence that speaks a thousand words.
It's one that translates into the reality that Dave's turnover has taken a nose dive and realistically there's no economic way he can stay in the business he loves. What, to him, is even worse is he can't remain loyal to the couple of generations of customers who've been loyal to him since the early 1970s.
A business that turned over close to $2 million at the turn of the century is now no longer viable.
His situation's not unique, the stats are there to prove very few sole traders remain nationwide.
In years to come they'll become part of social folklore, much as penny farthing bikes, fountain pens and blotting paper are today – something quaint to be looked back on, often with a condescending snigger.
Shops like Dave Prendergast's belong to the pre-trolley, self-service checkout era.
Unlike the "big guns" service has been his modus operandi – he prides himself on his commitment to providing the personal touch.
"In the past with nine out of 10 of my customers I'd make a sale, often because I know them, have dealt with them for years or they've come into the shop because of word of mouth – what better recommendation can you have?"
Furniture Court may be in its dying days but Dave hasn't let his self-imposed standards slip.
As we chat would-be customers come and go – he's on his feet in a jiffy greeting, smiling that genuinely endearing smile of his, taking them to whatever they're interested in, if the price doesn't suit he moves on to something more pocket-friendly. If he senses people prefer to be left alone he backs away.
There's no fast-paced sales patter, no pressure to buy – that's not the Dave Prendergast way and if a sale's not made, so be it.
"It's the customer's choice not mine, I'd rather they left here happy than feeling they've been talked into something they don't really want."
Dave provides a salutatory lesson in never taking a person at face value.
"I learnt many many years ago not to judge people. They may look rugged but they often turn out to be a serous buyer, a woman who came in in bare feet bought a pricey bed. She said I was the only salesman who'd given her the time of day."
Such has been the Dave Prendergast way of doing business.
His sales career began after a good, solid Catholic education.
"I was taught by priests, they were strict, real men who instilled high standards in me. It really hurts me to hear of all the things going on in the Catholic church today, I never saw anything like that."
Dave was in his teens when he arrived in Rotorua, his first job was with department store George Courts, or at least he thought it was.
"I applied for a job with Courts but it was just at the time Cornishes took over."
As befitting a newbie, he was consigned to the stock room, but was soon elevated to the shop floor.
"I was the one everybody used to grab to shift the heavy things. It was a workplace with a wonderful social life, there were some young girls in women's fashion who loved a good party."
Dave's perpetually twinkly eyes go into overdrive as he reminisces to himself - not us -about what those parties entailed.
When Cornishes became Haywrights (remember them?) Dave took himself to Christies Furnishing in Eruera St, flooring was his speciality.
"I like to think I developed a really good reputation there, it was the days when shop people were more honest, didn't cut corners or rip you off."
After three or four years (he's lost count of the exact time frame) he and a group of mates went to Aussie for a scene change.
Home, he joined another furniture biggie of the day, Smith and Brown. To gauge its location think where Starbucks sits today.
"It had two entrances, Hinemoa and Tutanekai Sts. I got to be assistant manager, when Smiths City took over they wanted me to become a manager elsewhere but I didn't want to leave Rotorua."
His wish to remain was granted, he was assigned to run the company's Lake Rd flooring factory.
"It was the sales and distribution centre for all New Zealand, it was going so well that it was a huge shock when Smiths City's North Island venture collapsed, it was my first and only experience of receivers coming in, wow. Strangely enough I never worried about not getting paid, but having accountants take control was awful."
Undaunted, Dave bit the bullet and opened his first Pukuatua St furniture shop.
"We targeted suppliers of quality furniture from good quality New Zealand brands, none of your cheaply made overseas products with a quick use-by date, the business just grew and grew."
When, in another sign of the times, the video shop two doors down wanted to downsize they did a swap, Dave taking over their much larger space.
"Kevin Reekie was my business partner for 13 years, we never had a disagreement, that's very unusual, we became the greatest of friends. When he died of prostate cancer I ran the business solo."
Nor was he fazed when competitor, Flair Furnishings, moved next door "It's always good to have competition, it keeps you on your toes."
He sheets the decline of his business to the days the main city bus stop was moved immediately outside his front door.
"Undesirables began to hang around, smoke in my doorway, customers were being frightened off. This area's gone downhill ever since, there aren't any retailers left at this end of Pukuatua Street now, trading's no longer viable, we all know the CBD's suffering."
Dave leaves us with a parting confession, it's that he's the self-described "dinosaur of the business world." Blow computers and their Excel spread sheets.
"I still record all my stock, what comes in and what goes out in a good old fashioned ledger, it's always served me well."
Born: Wellington, 1956
Education: St Bernard's Primary, Marist Brothers Newtown, St Patrick's "in the city."
Family: "Three wonderful sons, their mother Anita Hyde and I never married but we did the right thing by them, brought them up together.
Interests: "My sons, my Siberian husky-border collie cross, Astro, we do a lot of flyball agility training." Wall climbing. "I've never been one to join service clubs, I just pitch in when I can help people, donate goods to charity fundraisers."
On his life: "Fundamentally I like people."
On Rotorua: Visitors come to see the attractions, do the activities, go to Eat Streat, they give the CBD a miss - just as well these days."
Personal philosophy: "If you treat people well they'll treat you well."