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Packing her own bags after 50 years of service

Marguerite Lyttle and Brad Meikle at Featherston SuperValue. PHOTO/SUE TEODORO

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A Featherston supermarket celebrity closed the till for the last time yesterday after 50 years.

Marguerite Lyttle is heading into a well-deserved retirement after five decades of working at Featherston SuperValue. Currently a duty manager, Lyttle started there as a teenager.

She started work at the store, then known as Becketts, in about 1967. Still at school at Kuranui College at the time, she would deliver advertising leaflets by bicycle after school.

She had seen plenty of change over the years, including the store moving to its present location and a series of expansions and upgrades. Lyttle also remembered the days before plastic packaging.

“I used to weigh up rice and sultanas and cut up cheese. In those days, everything came in bulk; that’s how it was done,” she said.

“The milk bottles were recycled, and the bread would come in brown paper bags. I can remember the barracuda loaves that you broke in half, and the kids would eat them on the way home; the bread was freshly baked.”

She started working there full-time in 1971 but had taken a few breaks to marry and have her five children. She also has 15 grandchildren, soon to be 16.

She had done a range of jobs at the store, including administration. Later on, she and her husband owned the business from 1987 to 2001.

“It feels a bit unreal,” Lyttle said of her last day.

“I’m going to miss everyone. The customers are so great. The bosses are great too.”

Lyttle planned to spend more time with family and on hobbies like swimming and cycling.

“I’m looking forward to a good holiday, and there’s plenty to do at home,” she said.

Brad Meikle and his wife Rochelle had owned the store for the past three years. Meikle said Lyttle would be missed, although her sister would still work there.

“She’s been a great part of the team. The whole family are lovely people,” he said.

“She’s been a great asset. She’s reliable, stable, and solid – the kind of person everyone wants to have as part of the team.

“She’s also a great baker; she bakes for everyone as well,” he said.

“She’ll be greatly missed, but I’m excited for her to spend time with her family. She certainly deserves a good retirement because she’s worked really hard.

“I’ve been lucky to have Marg for the three years I’ve been here.”

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