Johnson's: "An incredible Grocery Shop from the good old Days" Top 5 Page for this destination Christchurch Shopping Tip by Kakapo2

Christchurch Shopping: 42 reviews and 40 photos

  Like a step back in time: Johnson
by Kakapo2
  • Like a step back in time: Johnson - Christchurch
      Like a step back in time: Johnson
    by Kakapo2
  • The new shop in the container mall. - Christchurch
      The new shop in the container mall.
    by Kakapo2

Earthquake update 2011/2012

Despite having lost his unique shop Colin Johnson and his delicacies have not been lost to Christchurch. He opened shop at the Re:Start Container Mall (Cashel Street) in the city centre. This surely does not compare to the yesteryear feel of the old shop but the man himself is the same, and he marvels about having straight shelves now, and the goods he sells are as fantastic as ever. But as great as it is, Colin Johnson is determined to rebuild at the old site in Colombo Street as soon as this area is open again.

If you step into Johnson's Grocery on Colombo Street, you feel like stepping back in time. If you are after something and do not get it at Johnson's - well, then you will probably not get it anywhere in Christchurch.

The shop itself is like a long and high hallway, with shelves from the floor up to the ceiling, an antique counter, and some additional tables which are crammed with the most delightful groceries from around the world, and other things are stacked on the floor. There is not a lot of space for several customers at a time.

The grocer needs a ladder to reach all the treasures that are neatly stored on the shelves, and he really knows exactly which thousands of goods he stores in the shop, and where they are. You ask, and within seconds you get your item.

Like in the good old days the grocer - in a clean apron, of course - weighs out sweets from the jars on the counter, or slices cheese from the block. If you ask for a certain kind of tea, he can tell you which one you probably might like best - he seems to have tested them all!

The window is used as an additional shelf, with stacks of tea tins and boxes. Outside some blackboards are leaning against the window, informing the customers about the new arrivals like Jaffa cakes, wagon wheels and toffees, and specials. Even if I do not need anything, every time I pass I just have to stop and have a look at this amazing place.

The grocery opened in 1911 as Leigh and Co. Stan Johnson bought the business in 1949, and his son Colin has been working in the shop since 1957 - and he is still there today, the friendly man with the neat apron!

Sometimes I think this shop is as much a tourist attraction as it is a grocery. It is just the best one I have ever seen. It makes me think of the grocery in the village where I grew up, and which closed down when the lady-owner died. In Germany we called such groceries where you got everything "Tante-Emma-Laden" - Aunt Emma shop - for its familiar atmosphere. So Johnson's would be a kind of "Uncle Colin Shop" LOL

What to buy: Swiss chocolate, Italian amarettini and vinegar, French snails, Scottish marmalade, English sweets, German biscuits, Turkish delights, Sri Lankan tea, coffee from Colombia... Mustards, vinegars, condiments... Just every grocery you can think of! I think it would be the perfect place for homesick people who could feel less homesick when getting groceries from home...

The shop is open Monday to Saturday.

Photo 2 shows the new after-earthquake shop in the Re:Start Container Mall in Cashel Street.

Address: 787 Colombo Street
Directions: North of Cathedral Square, between Kilmore and Peterborough Streets. On the left side, if coming from the Square.
Phone: (03) 366 3027
Theme: Food and Drink

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 27, 2012
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