Destination: Bin Inn Pāpāmoa

Words Kate Underwood, Images Brydie Thompsom

There’s a nostalgic familiarity about a Bin Inn store. This quintessential New Zealand grocery brand was founded in 1988, and thanks to Jo and Paul Nolan, the Pāpāmoa store has been transported into the future. Now offering a fresh, modern, destination grocery shop with an enticing range of products and ingredients that 20 years ago didn’t exist.

Taking the reins in March 2021, Jo and Paul have spent the last 18 months injecting life and vigour into Aotearoa’s beloved wholefoods pantry, with the aim to provide a personable and relaxed shopping experience. Alongside a convenient layout, the welcoming atmosphere makes acquiring your groceries feel like less of a chore and more of a delicious retail adventure.

Originally from Hamilton, Paul holidayed as a child in the Bay of Plenty, while Jo spent her early years in Tauranga. In 2018 after successful careers in Auckland, they decided to make the move home. Paul was ex CEO of Davies Foods and Jo was involved across marketing and health roles, so their collective skillsets have set them up well.

Driven to take a long-term business view, they want to build community around their store. Starting with the staff, who are like family, both figuratively and literally, as Jo’s twin Sally works on the shop floor from time to time – you’ll be forgiven if you get them confused. As people, we like to know we’re buying from people, and both Paul and Jo are determined to make sure their customers’ grocery experience is a warm and memorable one.

Jo has a personal interest in food trends and nutrition so loves when customers come in requesting a new product. She’ll pull out her phone and say, “Let’s learn about this together.” After spending much of her life selling internal marketing, she’s enjoyed the fact there is no hard sell. “People choose to be here and they believe in what we’re doing.”

Since taking over, they’ve levelled things up, putting in a new inventory system which helps manage their 120 suppliers and over 2,500 product lines. From the popular jars of Greek sun-ripened peaches to their international aisle involving an extensive Asian pantry range to Dutch treats like the Stroopwafel, a caramel waffle biscuit and the lengthy organic Finnish licorice straps – a nod to their daughter Lucy, who is on a working holiday in Finland.

With over 400 bulk bins, their selection is thoughtfully curated with the customers’ needs front of mind. You’ll find every type of flour imaginable, including New Zealand grown Kiwi quinoa (a top seller), through to refillable oils and more.

Another thing you’ll notice here is the cleanliness. Everything is sparkling, ready to be emptied, re-filled and emptied again. Diehard brewing fans can get their homemade liquor supplies and tea fanatics will appreciate the rainbow wall of Pukka Tea and T-Leaf. They also sell heaps of birdseed.

Bin Inn runs as a licensee model, not a franchise, ensuring each store can be locally owned and individually operated. Jo firmly believes that “for a healthy New Zealand Inc, we need a strong collective of small businesses throughout the country”.

A key element of their business ethos is about giving back, whether that’s offering customers an incentive discount when making package free purchases or Jo going out of her way to hunt down specific ingredients and ensuring their range reflects the needs of the clientele. Their customer base tend to be early adopters of wholefoods, some with dietary issues or those on a personal journey with their health.

They’ve recently witnessed growth in the keto-based market, particularly ingredients like almond meal and psyllium husk. But like many, they’re constantly battling supply chain issues and if they can’t get a product in, they work really hard to avoid empty shelves.

Supporting local where possible, they stock the full Pepper & Me range from Tauriko, baskets of free range eggs and deliveries from Volare Bread. In the fridge are locally made Roa Kombucha as well as Dr. Bucha, which started at the Tauranga Farmers Market, as well as glass swap-a-bottle Dreamview milk from a little further afield in Raglan.

“Lots of people are still discovering us,” explains Paul, and they’ve noticed shoppers tend to spend a long time in store. “We’d love to see it become part of people’s weekly routines.” Situated inside Fashion Island, there’s ample parking both out front and around the back. Treat the kids (or yourself) to the satisfaction of the make your own peanut butter machine, while you sip on a flat white from the instore café, The Coffee Project.

Bin Inn Pāpāmoa has it all, and if they don’t they’ll be sure to help you find it.


Kate Underwood




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