In 1909 Robert Laidlaw created his mission statement ‘to build the greatest business in New Zealand’. Today, trading as simply “Farmers” New Zealand’s oldest department store chain still provides merchandise to shoppers across the entire country.

The Hobson Street department store became a central focus for shopping for generations of Aucklanders. The building survives as the Heritage Hotel but in its heyday the five storied building offered fine dining, spectacular city views and even a children’s playground. It had the country’s first escalators and the city’s first pet department. In 1936, a year after the pet department opened, a white parrot was donated by an old lady who was unable to care for him. At the time of the donation, the bird was already 90 years old. read more