This week's Newsmaker is Leigh Morris, who owns the Lucky Lotto Shop which sold the Winning Wheel ticket two weeks in a row.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and educated in Rotorua and have lived in Tokoroa, Thames and Taumarunui before returning to my hometown. I have two adult children in Rotorua and a stepson in Taumarunui. I have always worked in retail or owned my own business. I love to knit and do patchwork in my spare time. I am a keen follower of the All Blacks and my late husband and I went on their 2004 tour to Italy, England, France and Wales. On the weekends I spend time with my partner out and about in his hotrod and we follow stockcars all over the country most recently going to the NZ Superstock Champs in Nelson.
How long have you owned Lucky Lotto Shop and what were you doing before you owned the store?
I have owned the Lucky Lotto Shop since December 2011. Before this my late husband and I were farming in Taumarunui where my main job on the farm was to rear 500 4-day-old calves each year. I had a real urge to return to Rotorua after his passing and after settling in found myself quite bored and looking for a new venture. I had always felt drawn to the Lucky Lotto Shop and had even looked at purchasing it in 2005, so when I saw it advertised for sale in the shop window I knew it was meant to be.
How did it feel to sell the Winning Wheel ticket two weeks in a row?
Really exciting, we couldn't believe it at first and thought they had made a mistake. The whole team is very excited, it creates a great atmosphere in the shop, everyone is buzzing and wondering if the next person through the door is the holder of that winning ticket.
How do you feel when you see someone come into claim a reasonably sized prize?
I think we are just as excited as the winners sometimes. It's such a great feeling to know you have made someone's day and possibly made a difference to their lives. It's always interesting to see their initial reaction when they win big especially if they weren't aware they had a winning ticket. Some people jump up and down and make a lot of noise and others just look like they may faint.
Do you buy Lotto tickets and how much have you won?
I have been buying Lotto on and off over the years and remember winning $745 about four weeks after Lotto started 25 years ago and have never won anything bigger since. Some people just seem to be luckier than others.
What would you do if you won the big one?
Pay the bills, make sure the family are looked after and go on a cruise while deciding what to do with the rest.
As a store owner in the CBD what changes would you like to see to the CBD?
Free parking with a two-hour time limit. This is essential going forward, the pay and display parking is not working from a retailers' point of view and a major deterrent to people shopping in the CBD. The pre-Christmas trial was very successful and it is obvious it needs to be permanent for the CBD retailers to stay in business. It is disappointing to see so many empty shops around but the council have some great initiatives in the pipeline with the walkable city initiatve and free wifi in the CBD that will hopefully encourage new business into the CBD.
What aspects of being a business owner do you most enjoy?
Meeting and talking with the customers, we have a great mix of locals and tourists coming through.
What's the hardest thing about being a business owner?
I am very lucky to have an extremely competent daughter who runs the business and keeps things stress free for me. We also have a great team of ladies working in the shop and everything runs very smoothly, we have a lot of fun in the shop and I really enjoy going to work.
Tell us three things about yourself that most people wouldn't know.
I had 200 racing pigeons and raced them regularly over 10 years winning many prizes.
I am currently having my own "candy red'' coloured T-Bucket hotrod custom built and hope to be on the road in April.
My first ever job while I was still at school was at in the lolly department at McKenzies on Tutanekai St where Goulds is now. I just love lollies and couldn't believe my luck getting a job in the lolly department. On my first day I had to break down and bag some huge blocks of licorice and could hardly believe it when my supervisor said I could eat as much as I like _ so I did. I never made to my second day at work as I spent all night and the next day on the loo. Suffice to say I never ate any more lollies on the job.