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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Changes I've observed...

In the news in the last week or so there have been reports of a company which has a number of womens wear shops will be closing a number of these outlets. ( Miller's Fashion Club, Katies, Crossroads and 1626/Autograph) The reason being that they have been operating at a loss. Then another Australian retail chain 'Wow' announced it was going out of business; laybys would be honoured but gift cards would not be. Now the way the media handled these announcements was that it seemed the public were to blame because we are not spending as much money.

It is quite complicated I guess...many of us are questioning the slavish buying of goods and asking ourselves 'Do I really need this item?' Many bloggers that I follow write about being frugal and it's 'catching on'. Why do I say it's complicated? A lot of people in the community work in retail and many face losing their livelihoods which is a concern. As a society we have become beholden to these big behemoths called shopping centres and perhaps it's greed but the retail chains have stretched themselves thin adding to their retail outlets till there are literally hundreds. Have you noticed that the big shopping malls/centres all seem to have the same shops no matter whether you're shopping in Cairns or Hobart?

Last month I took some blankets out of storage and gave them a wash before we gave them away to a charity that gives them to homeless people in the city. As I hung one on the line I noticed the label on it, 'Baroba'. Now that started some memories! This was the store brand of a company here in Queensland called Barry and Roberts. There was a branch of this store in my home suburb and my mother used to put clothing for us and manchester on layby at the store. This blanket was one of a pair that my mother had laybyed in the early 1980s and it was still in beautiful condition. Barry and Roberts gradually closed their stores in the mid 1980s. Then I thought about all the other department stores that were in the Brisbane of my youth.

Our local Barry&Roberts store; built in the 1960s
from the Brisbane City Council Collection, No BCC B54-15245

Some were taken over by David Jones (TC Beirnes and Finneys) and Myer (McWhirters and Allan and Stark). Some disappeared in redevelopment of the CBD; Edwards and Lamb, Briggs, Red Combe, MacDonnell and East and Bayards. Bayards mentioned in the last sentence ended up disappearing from regional areas and suburbs very quickly too. Remember Waltons? they've gone too. Many of those aforementioned department stores were family owned and perhaps the pressure to compete with huge comapnies like Myer and DJs was too much for the smaller firms and they closed for ever. Lots of favourite little stores closed up for ever too; Boston Silks and Mimis for example. Those Brisbanites of a certain age bemoan their passing still. We often gather to share fond memories. lol! Well maybe not often...but definitely every now and then.

Allan and Starks became Myer

A very old photo of McDonnell and Easts

Will people in future years be as sentimental about the large chains like Millers?? What's disappeared from your town/city? (I won't mention Spotlight and small stores but you might)


Humble wife said...

We are seeing declines here too. Our local Mall has about 50% filled. Empty stores along the main streets. Yet, more thrift or second hand stores have popped up...hmm.

Becky said...

Anericans are slowly catching on to being "thrifty" but I work in a Retail Store in a VERY Retail town and the traffic is horrendous with people BUYING BUYING BUYING at all the Malls, strips Malls ,shops along Harbison Blvd. It's a Shoppers Mecca. But then on the side of town where I actually live we are seeing shops close or down size their inventory. There certainly is "change a foot" in the Retail World and with Gas prices about to skyrocket once more I see things only getting worse. As a child my Grandmother ordered clothes from Montgomery Wards; they've been gone since the 80's. And glossy catalogs are definitely a thing of the past -no more "wish books". I always loved the Christmas catalogs best as I could dream and dream about all the dolls and little accessories. The Internet has really changed the way people shop these days as well. ANYTHING can be found and purchased on the Internet.

Lea White said...

Those photos are amazing!

Susan said...

Maria, I was thinking about Jack the Slasher in Loganhome just the other day. I used to shop there when I lived up there in the 70's.

Maria said...

Susan...yes I remember 'Jack the Slasher'; there was one near here at the eastern end of Brookside Shopping centre. Jack Butler I think his name was and he took on Woolies and Coles. Now of course they don't have any real competition any more :-(

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