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End of an era . . . Former Harbour St Bakery owner Ed Balsink is leaving Oamaru. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

After nearly 11 years serving customers at Harbour St Bakery, Ed Balsink is saying goodbye to the bakery and to the people of Oamaru. Reporter Tyson Young catches up with Ed to chat about his time at the bakery.

After all these years, how does it feel to say goodbye?

It’s funny. I’ve been here for 10 and a-half years, and that’s not something that you put next to you. I’m training the new owners now and I’m enjoying it; I’m enjoying the training and our personalities are just very, very alike – we just click. We’ve also become good friends which is good. I have a feeling that when I’m done training the new owners, I won’t know what to do with my time. My wife and I bought a house in Dunedin, so I’ll be moving there soon. I’ll be regularly coming back to Oamaru to check on the bakery and to visit my older daughter, so it’s not an empty feeling, but it is a funny feeling.

What’s made you want to leave the business?

Well, it’s been 36 years of night shifts and no social life. I just want to go to bed late, I don’t want to wake up to an alarm clock any more.

What’s your next business venture?

I plan to find a part time job in Dunedin. I’m quite keen to get into teaching or consulting. I think it would be quite nice to become a baking consultant. I could also set up a bit of a Facebook page about it. I’ll also continue taking flying lessons in Dunedin for a small aircraft licence. But first of all I just want to take it easy for a while.

How did your customers react when you told them you were leaving?

Some of them were getting a little bit emotional to me. Some of them have found it disappointing that I’ve chosen to leave and some of them have wished me all the best, and have understood that, after all the years of baking, I’ve chosen to do something else. I guarantee to the customers that the people taking over are nice people, and they’re doing a great job.

What’s the one thing you’ll miss the most?

I think I’m going to miss the freedom within the business, the interaction with the customers and especially the Sunday market – that’s the highlight of my week. I’d get customers that would come into the shop regularly, but I had some customers that would only come to the market.

What’s the one thing you’ll miss the least?

It would be making the pies every day – it’s one hell of a job. Every job has its bad parts and for me it was making the pies. It’s very labour-intensive and you have to go through a lot of stages. I’m not saying that I hated it, I’m just saying that it wasn’t really the nicest job.

Is there anything you’d like to say to the people of Oamaru?

I want to say that I’ll really, really miss talking to my customers. I made a lot of friends – I will miss this town so much.