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Big sale of the Wee Red Barn

Although the owners of the Wee Red Barn are selling the business that was their long-held, dream, it’s a positive move without regrets.

Dot and Alan Bissett started the iconic shop and berry growers space north of Masterton 16 years ago, building the operation from scratch.

“This was the dream,” Dot Bissett said. “We bought it off Trade Me and set it up so it could thrive.

“It was a rundown vineyard that hadn’t been open for years when we bought it.

“There was no shop. A hundred years ago it was an old horse stable.”

The business has specialised in growing and selling a variety of berry fruit but is best known for its strawberries.

Those who haven’t been to the shop will almost certainly have seen its stalls on roadsides and markets in Wairarapa and Wellington.

Bissett said it had been rewarding to see the business bloom.

“Watching drone footage of the grounds, it really highlighted the whole thing we’ve created.

“We supply our berries to Parliament. Peter Jackson also buys them.”

The business has been featured on ‘Country Calendar’ and won two Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“We’ve grown a brand,” Bissett said. “Even as far as Hawke’s Bay, you say, ‘the Wee Red Barn’ and people know the name.”

Despite the diminutive name, the work involved in building up and maintaining the business has been anything up “wee”.

“A lot more goes into it than you’d think. We’re picking berries for nine months of the year. It’s not a small operation.

“The business carried on with covid. We were an essential service, and we have a campsite on the property, so we just became one big family.”

Bissett said the couple’s success had been down to planning.

“The weather doesn’t really affect our operation, because we have tunnels and tables that provide protection from the elements and ensure they have been able to produce strong yields all year round.

“It’s a profitable business, always has been,” Bissett said.

“There are always challenges in farming, but you work through it. Then you look back over the years and can’t think of a bad time.”

Dot said there had been plenty of speculation as to why they were selling.

“Neither of us are sick or dying. People have been asking, but we’re doing ok. This is a happy thing.”

As well as freeing time up to spend more time with family, the couple is selling up so they can travel more together, having first met when Dot was on her O.E.

The Bissetts plan to help the Wee Red Barn’s new owners transition into the business.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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