Angela Russell and Jeff Honeybun – Honeybun Jewellers
“Angela was the best person I ever employed. When her children went back to school, she was looking for job and applied for a role here. She started off part-time and ended up working for me for about 15 years. Then when I retired, she knew the business so well, it was the perfect opportunity for her to take over. Now I’m the worker and Angela is the boss! We’ve swapped roles.
This shop has been a jewellers for at least seventy years, which is probably a record in New Zealand for something in one spot. There have been lots of Honeybuns in Moore Street. My Dad owned a business down the road and my Uncle owned the menswear shop, David Honeybuns. Mike who owned this place wanted an apprentice, which gave me an excuse to leave school.
The apprenticeship was five years back then. There are hardly any apprenticeships now – maybe only one or two in the country. I started here in 1968 and was here until six years ago when I ‘retired’. I am actually a watchmaker, but the shop is a bit like a general store for jewellery. We both do a lot of remodelling and watch repairs but also a lot of jewellery repairs.
Since Covid-19, we’ve been very busy. Our customers have been supportive which is great. We do a lot of old clock restoration. People were cleaning their places out during the month they were in lockdown, saw their clocks and thought “I should get that repaired, and now is the perfect time to do it.” There was a programme on TV called The Repair Shop that may have pushed people to come to us to get a few repairs done. We think it’s also that programme that’s helped keep us busy!
We love Howick – it’s home and it’s where our roots are. We’ve both lived locally for most of our lives. I’ve been here for 59 years and seen a bit of change in that time! It was all farmland around here when we grew up. Angela was brought up on a farm in Smales Road. I’ve been here so long, I’ve been to three customers weddings! They become our friends. People even bring in photos of their children and grandchildren. We love seeing those.
There is a nice vibe in Howick, the people are lovely. The new immigrants settling here are great fun as well; most people who come in here are. We might only have one or two grumpy people in a year! A lovely lady yesterday told us we had beautiful faces, and how she loves how we are always smiling, which was nice to hear. It’s an achievement to run a business. In this retail business environment and with the internet, it’s a big deal just to survive. You just have to think: “If you want to be, it’s up to me.”