Community hopes garage will stay

SERVICE: Eastern Beach Motors manager Graeme Coffer has received strong feedback from the community asking for the garage to stay when the land is sold. Times photo Laura Brookes.

Local residents are calling for potential new owners of 149 Bucklands Beach Road to keep the renowned Eastern Beach Motors in full operation.

The 2744m2 site up for sale on Bucklands Beach peninsula is the current home of Eastern Beach Motors, a business built from scratch by the landlord’s father 65 years ago.

The site was originally listed with Barfoot and Thompson, before being switched to First National in November.

It’s the first time the site has been on the market in more than 65 years, according to the First National website listing.

Eastern Beach Motors manager Graeme Coffer, who has been with the business for 32 years, said widespread community support for keeping the garage up and running became evident from the first day the sale sign went up.

Since September, he estimated he has spoken to five to six people every day asking where the garage is going.

“The property came up for sale and it was like a big shock wave through Bucklands Beach,” he said.

“A lot of people were asking… ‘where are you gonna go, where are you gonna go?’ ”

The garage has been hailed as a community service “as important as the family doctor” by local resident Kathie Knight, who called the Times to talk about her experience – and she wasn’t the only one.

Single parent Michelle Davidson shared Ms Knight’s concerns.

She first took her car to the garage 10 years ago on the recommendation of a family member.

“There are so many mechanics that say one thing and do another, but you can trust these guys. They’ve built up the trust of the community, and there’s nothing left in the community when that’s gone.”

She’s referring to the family butcher, post office, medical centre and chemist – public services and infrastructure once located on the peninsula, and now nowhere to be seen.

Local resident Pauline Perkins said she is worried the community will be “isolated” for service if the garage disappears when the land sells.

“We’ve all been going in for ages…that’s what it is about here. I’ve been taking my car there for more than 18 years.

“Even the odd time my car wouldn’t work in the morning, Graeme would come and get it sorted, or they’d drop me at work and drop the car back,” she said. “They’re all great.”

Howick resident John Reynolds, whose brother went to school with Mr Coffer, has been a customer at Eastern Beach Motors for more than 25 years.

“Graeme’s the kind of person you give your car keys over to. I’d follow them wherever they go because it’s a matter of trusting someone with your vehicle – but I’d be sad for them to go from here.”

It’s a view that’s been echoed around the community, as other residents called in to comment on the reliability of the staff, and the loyalty that has been shown to the Bucklands Beach community.

“They know they can pop in at any time and ask for anything,” said Mr Coffer, “and you end up leaving work each day satisfied, because you helped someone out. We get people coming in and leaving us their car with a signed cheque in the glovebox and saying ‘when you’re finished, fill out the cheque and bank it’… that’s a trust thing.

“They know we’ll look after them, and that’s the kind of service this is for the local community. I think that’s what the [locals] are trying to get across… it’s privately owned and you’ve got to accept it’s being sold, but if anyone’s interested in buying it, we just want them to know that this is what the community would love to see happen.”

A real estate agent at First National declined to comment.

By: Laura Brookes