Winners of the People's Choice Award, sponsored by NZME.
The judges said:
The judges undertook a secret shopper experience, all the businesses nominated offered a very different experience and all were strong contenders - albeit with very different delivery models. Wardini Books impressed the judges with the open and friendly nature of their staff, the knowledge of the product and the commitment to selling books that are the perfect fit for the customers' needs. The physical environment is inviting, with many many recommendations noted on books across the store which are read and reviewed by the different members of the team. Wardini took out the top spot due to the knowledge, attentiveness and warmth of its people - a great product supported by even more exceptional people.
About your business, from the beginning to where you are now:
We bought a failing book shop about 8 years ago with a clear vision to create something magical and present to our community a bookshop in which they can spend time, find stimulating material and engage in fascinating and fun conversations. It was hard work, almost as if the shop had become invisible in recent times, and people didn’t come in. So we said yes to everything, got in touch with schools, community groups, tried ideas that failed and ideas that worked.
It took time, love and money but after a while, people popped their heads in and saw something different, something attractive that they wanted to be a part of. We were able to employ a staff member for one day a week and later still a full-time member of staff. About 4 years ago we opened Wardini Books Napier, the hub of our services to schools and the centre of the reading community in Napier. We are a team of 10, all of whom have ideas and specialities, be it running a Sci-Fi/Fantasy book club or creating an LGBTQ+ radio show.
Why did you decide to enter the awards?
We were thrilled to be nominated for the awards as People’s Choice. The fact that someone took the time and energy to think of us as deserving is humbling and validating to us and our team.
What was your best “take away “ from the awards process?
That there is so much good stuff happening in local business. We were impressed by the collegiality of the award nominees and the amount of good work occurring in social and environmental sustainability.
Where to next for Wardini Book Shop?
Post covid we have been busier than ever so we’ll have to monitor if this is a permanent change and adapt as appropriate. More authors are keen to come to Hawke’s Bay (seeing as they can’t go overseas I suppose) so that’s an area we can continue to grow. Our event schedule gets busier and busier and we’re able to provide authors with a space to engage with their readers.