A MAN WITH A VISION
Steve Roper loves village life and has been a mainstay of the local scene for seven years since he opened OPSM at 460 Mount Eden Road. Walking into his store you immediately feel a sense of calm, space and time that is often overlooked at the fast-paced optometry shops that have popped up in large malls. His store feels artful and considered and fits well with the village vibe.
Q. How did you come to open a business in the Village?
A. I grew up in the UK. I came to New Zealand 14 years ago and got a job with Carlisle Mason who had ten stores. I went from regional manager to operations manager until they sold the business. I ran my own business in the UK and I don’t really like working for other people as I’ve worked for myself for so long. I looked at franchising and this was one of the first places I came to. I remember thinking, what a nice village. It’s not like when you go to CBD and it’s great, but everything is really generic. You come here and there’s small individual businesses. Loads of Cafes and great coffee – it suits me down to the ground. I live on Eastern beach and because of that journey, Botany was one of the options. I thought nah, it’s not appealing as you can’t have that real effect on the business because the general OPSM stores all look the same. This one still looks like it belongs in a village. Of all the franchises in NZ and Australia, I’m the only one that could keep the original appearance of the business. It’s a fine line between keeping the village appeal and looking modern enough. If you put income at the top of the list for reasons to buy, it wouldn’t have been this one. When I first came to NZ, it was either here or Remuera. Mt Eden was great, I liked it. Still do.
Q. Are your customers mainly local?
A. Pretty much. If you look at the addresses, you recognize the street names or they can be existing customers who have moved out or they come in because of local recommendations.
It’s quite weird sometimes because you’ll get someone in that you’ve not seen for a few years. I met this guy at Circus Circus a couple of weeks ago, I’ve not seen him for a while and he mentioned he moved to Invercargill and he said ‘we’re really sorry we can’t come in anymore’. People also come to see my optometrist. She has been here for 15 years, is local and really well known. In 2018, we got a top franchise customer service award for both Australia and New Zealand. I don’t think we would have got this if we’d been in a mall.
Q. Are you a workaholic?
Q. Err no, I have been in the past but the staff I have are really good, so now I work half a week. In my spare time I do loads of gardening and home renovations – particularly over lock down. Coming from the UK, the plants are so different in NZ. It’s trial and error in the garden! Over COVID I’ve become a very good painter. I’ve been watching all the DIY shows on TV. I enjoy it. I also read a lot of science fiction. The last title was something like Galactic World (laughs). Just simple reads. I usually read with a glass of wine in hand. I have a lovely wine fridge which is always pretty much full. I like a lot of Spanish and Australian wines and Allan Scott. My partner and I also go to Waiheke with friends to visit all the vineyards. Pro tip: If you get a wine fridge, you should get a dual one so that you can house your whites and your reds.
To check out Steve’s awesome and highly personal service visit OPSM.co.nz or just pop in. It’s a lovely vibe.