In one way or another story-telling has been a theme throughout the Delmonte’s life discovers Katie Farman.
Warwick Delmonte can remember being surrounded by books from a young age. His father owned a book, stationery and toy store in Auckland called Papakura Stationers, from the mid-1960s till the late 1970s. It was a place he’d visit and get lost in the titles.
“I’d like to say my first book of interest was a classic piece of literature but no, the first reading material that grabbed me were the comics in my Dad’s store. I devoured the British weeklies in particular – Beano, Eagle, Dandy... plus of course Superman, Green Lantern, Captain America ... I still miss them!”
These days it’s thrillers, crime and compelling characters that keep Warwick turning the pages. And it’s his love of words and stories that prompted a major career change – almost a year after Warwick and his family traded their inner city Auckland lifestyle for a 40-acre property on the outskirts of Masterton.
Warwick had spent 36 years in the competitive world of advertising working as a senior writer and “creative” meaning he’d come up with “a damn good idea” every day and create copy for clients. He amassed an award-winning portfolio that included key campaigns for Air New Zealand, Lion Breweries and Frucor.
Sarah, who grew up in the Wairarapa, has an extensive background in financial services and marketing. She spent ten years as the Marketing Director for VISA launching new financial services and cards to the market and worked on key events including FIFA, the Olympics and bringing major acts like The Rolling Stones and Katy Perry to New Zealand.
A desire for change saw the Delmonte’s move onto their property near Sarah’s parents – Lyn and Hop Eglinton – in late 2015.
“It was a huge transition going from the demands of advertising to being a home hubby and full-time dad in rural Wairarapa ... I thought it would be a breeze but I was so busy running around and looking after Poppy and Georgie,” recalls Warwick. “I also spent months destroying farming equipment – mowers and trailers –I conquered them all.”
A year later, local businessman Russell Carthew, one of the original founders of the nationwide chain Paper Plus, put his Masterton business on the market.
“We were beginning this very different chapter in our own lives, when the business came up. It piqued my interest and we decided it was too good of an opportunity to miss,” says Warwick. “Sarah’s father Hop had gone through school with Russell so there was a nice connection and we liked the idea of having a business which lies at the heart of the community. In a funny way it was also an extension of storytelling, which has always been a theme for my life.”
The couple took over the business reins earlier this year and have made minor changes in-store including adding a Beautiful Books Section, a lounge where people can take their time to flick through the pages of a book or ask advice from staff. They’ve also held regular author events and added some fun and colour to the children’s area.
“Hundreds come in here every day to post mail, buy their Lotto tickets, use Kiwi Bank or buy books, magazines or gifts,” the couple say. “Many of them are like-minded people attracted by the book or the written word. And because of that we’ve tried to create an extension of their own home here and make them feel welcomed and valued.”