K M Black of Nelson


Kenneth Black ran a grocery store in Bridge Street, Nelson. The building, with the words, 'K.M. Black' marked on it, is still here.

I have connections with the store in two ways: it was my family's grocer, and I had an after-school job there. 

K.M Black

KM Black. Image supplied by author

On Monday mornings, Mr Large from K.M. Black would call on our house, and take down my mother's weekly grocery order. On Fridays the order was delivered in a large apple box.

My job at the store included weighing out sugar and flour into 3 and 6 pound paper bags, grinding coffee, and preparing and weighing our cheese. There was a cellar beneath the store, to which large wheels of cheese were delivered. These were covered in muslin ('cheese cloth'), and I had to wet and remove the cloth. After this I cut the cheese into manageable pieces to bring up to the store for weighing. Another job was to pack customers' orers in apple boxes for Friday delivery.

The story slice customers' bacon in whatever thickness or amounts customers wanted, using a slicing machine that I was not allowed to operate. They also used to grind coffee to order. You could smell the coffee as soon as you walked through the door.

Mr Black was the only grocer with a liquor licence, and there were many different brands of Scotch whisky stored in the cellar. Sometimes he invited close friends - usually Scottish - to tasting sessions in the cellar.

I guess K.M. Black's suffered the same fate as many other small stores when supermarkets came into existence.


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  • Ken Black was married to my father, Reginald Johnstone's Aunty Dot. I remember when they would fly over from Nelson and stay with us in Wellington. I was told that Ken Black won the Irish Sweepstake and bought the shop from his employer

    Posted by Helen Avery, 02/07/2019 5:31pm (11 months ago)

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