Maudette Brown just loves Stratford and Stratford loves her in return. That's why local shoppers voted her as the woman who provides the best business service in town. At a sold out function that attracted 740 guests, she picked up a "Romeo" in the inaugural Stratford and district service awards. The owner of the linen and craft business In Stitches said she was surprised and honoured to win the award. "I never thought that a small business such as mine would win anything. I'm just a one-person shop, which means that when I'm serving someone, everyone else has to wait.
"But that's why Stratford is such a wonderful place. The people are happy to wait if I'm busy - in fact, quite often they'll go and find what they want and leave exactly the right change for me. "And if I run out of change or need to go to the loo, my regulars will even stay a while and look after the shop." Originally from Whangarei, Maudette moved to Stratford in 2000 and found work at RH White and Co. When that business closed, she bought the linen and crafts side of things and named it In Stitches. Now, the business is going so well that she's about to expand the crafts area. "I just love Stratford. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather live," she said. "And that can't be because of the beaches, or the weather. So it's because of the people here."