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New chapter for iconic bookstore

Paper Plus Masterton’s new owners Sarah and Warwick Delmonte, with Russell Carthew (centre), who is hanging up his hat after 59 years in book retail. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER


By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

Sarah and Warwick Delmonte say they have “shoes the size of kayaks” to fill.

The couple has bought Masterton Paper Plus from highly-successful businessman Russell Carthew, who is closing a chapter in his life.

Mr Carthew was one of five founders of Paper Plus, but after a career spanning six decades in retail, he is hanging up his hat and handing his flagship Masterton store over to the Delmontes.

The Queen St business will change hands on June 1.

The couple, with their two young daughters, moved to Te Ore Ore 18 months ago, giving up their fast-paced lives in Auckland.

For Mrs Delmonte, who has a background in financial services marketing, it was a move home.

She was brought up in Makuri.

Her father, Hop Eglinton, went to school with Mr Carthew in Pahiatua, while she attended St Matthew’s Collegiate and Rathkeale College.

As for Mr Delmonte, he anticipates his relocation to a rural setting will help him regain his “credibility” following a 37-year career in advertising.

“There came a time when my own cynicism overtook my enthusiasm, so I came here to get clean.”

In a way, the move is also a step back in time for Mr Delmonte.

His father owned a bookstore in Auckland while he was growing up.

“It was always a place of warmth — surrounded by words, it was wonderful.”

The couple jumped at the opportunity to buy the Masterton business, which they have discovered to be the “epicentre for the community”.

Mr Delmonte said he was looking forward to ditching all the “weasel words” used in copywriting.

“It will be nice to retreat to the purity of words with books and authors.”

Mrs Delmonte, a keen reader of murder and crime mysteries, is looking forward to putting her new mortuary table — purchased from the recent Wairarapa DHB fundraiser — to use in the store for displays.

Mr Delmonte said he had grown fond of Wairarapa after many years of visiting the region, and particularly enjoyed the fact there were no traffic lights.

“It was somewhere I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life.”

The couple said their daughters Poppy, aged eight, and Georgie, five, were enjoying Wainuioru School, which has about 80 students — a stark contrast to their previous school of more than 1000 pupils.

Mr Carthew said it would be hard to step away from the store, which he and his wife Dara have developed into one of New Zealand’s leading bookstores.

The store has won various awards over the years including North Island bookstore of the year, and New Zealand Book Industry Award for the best bookshop in the country.

At age 75, Mr Carthew said it was time to move on. He was confident he was leaving his store in good hands.

The store was closed today for stocktaking, however NZ Post, Kiwi Bank, and Lotto remained open.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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