Having served the central Taranaki community for nearly 90 years, the team at ITM Stratford weren't going to let Covid-19 stop them, but continued to provide "good honest service and products to the town", says the store owner.
Mike Henry, who with his wife Kym owns the Stratford based store, says the business has weathered many storms over the years in its 88 years of trading, including World War II as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars, the introduction of GST, the change to decimal currency, recessions and more.
Kym says she thinks Mike's grandfather Victor Henry, who founded the business then known as Standard Timber in 1933, would be proud of the way the team navigated the business through the pandemic last year.
"The business has always been family, community and service focused. We have always put our staff first and made sure we do the best for our community, customers and staff. This didn't change during the lockdown and level 3 last year."
Despite only having the three days to prepare before the country went into lockdown last year, Kym says the team never missed a beat as they rushed to fill orders and ensure customers had all they needed to keep busy during lockdown.
"I have always said Kiwis are great at DIY and doing things and I am actually quite proud of our customers, and NZers as a whole, that people didn't just plan to sit on the couch during lockdown, but came up with projects they could do while they couldn't go to work."
Over the three days before lockdown hit, Kym and Mike even had family members come into the store to help, as the customers flooded in to buy a wide range of items.
"We sold out of paint, plywood and GIB [plasterboard] and were busy for the whole three days filling orders."
Once lockdown started, Kym and Mike were kept busy answering calls, as the business phones were set to go through to Mike's mobile. Having won multiple awards over the years for their excellent customer service, not being able to help some of those callers was frustrating, says Kym.
"That was actually maybe the most stressful part of lockdown, when our customers were calling asking if we were open and could supply them with things they needed. Having to say no, when we are so focused on excellent customer service and being helpful, was really hard."
Kym says she and Mike stayed focused on the importance of keeping everyone safe however.
"We are, and always have been, a family business. Our staff are treated like family, and closing our doors was the right thing to do as the country tried to stop Covid-19 spreading. We didn't look for loopholes or apply for exemptions because we felt the most important thing was keeping people safe."
The wage subsidy offered by the Government was a great help, and Kym and Mike topped it up to keep staff on full pay.
Staff and customer safety stayed a focus in level 3, says Kym, with clear protocols in place for social distancing and contactless delivery / pick up. She says it was all about working together as a team to ensure the business was able to reopen in level 3.
Business has continued to be brisk since the end of lockdown, something Kym thinks is because the pandemic has made people rethink things a bit.
"It's like everyone is having a mid-life crisis, even if they are only into their 20s. They are realising life is short, and instead of making do, they are making sure they are happy in their house - after all, you don't know when you are going to suddenly have to spend a few weeks locked in it."
With people unable to travel overseas, they are spending that money on home improvement instead she says.
"They might have thought about upgrading a vanity in the bathroom before Covid-19, but are now deciding to do the whole bathroom instead."
While lockdown is now thankfully a distant memory, Kym says the impact of Covid-19 isn't anywhere near over.
"I worry about the tradies, the builders. Our son and our nephew are both builders so we see that side of things quite closely too, and certainly they are going to be dealing with supply issues for some time yet.
"Covid-19 has hit the supply chain of all sorts of items, so while there is lots of work out there for builders, they are struggling to get some of the items the need to finish jobs. People are going to need to be patient with their tradespeople and builders as they work through getting jobs completed with the supplies available."
A lot has changed since Victor Henry first started selling native timber from a retail yard on the corner of Miranda and Regan streets in 1933, but the family values and focus on community and customer service haven't changed over the years, says Kym, and Covid-19 certainly wasn't going to change it for them.
"That focus on family and community is as strong today as it ever was. The business has grown a lot over the decades, we now have 22 staff plus five barn build crews in our employ, but we have the same attitude now as they did back then, a focus on doing our best and providing the best service in Taranaki. Covid-19 isn't going to be the thing to stop us."