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Shop Counter

c. 1880 - 1890
Overview

This beautiful vintage shop counter, circa 1880-1890 was made from imported pine and designed in the Victorian style. It would have been finished with a mixture of beeswax, oil and turpentine and possibly made by local carpenter, George Knapton, or purchased from a cabinet maker in Perth.

Historical information

Between the years 1835 – 1866, the crown-supported Commissariat (government store) supplied rationed foodstuffs, hardware, clothing and liquor, to the early Vasse settlers and the police and militia that were stationed in Busselton. The Commissariat stores receipts and Bills of Exchange were used as currency until the free circulation of money in 1837.

In 1850 Busselton got its first family owned independent general merchant store called Barzeys which stocked necessities like tea, flour, sugar. As the transport of goods by sea and road to the Vasse settlement improved and the states economy prospered, a wider range of merchandise became available. “Barzeys Store” was sold in 1870 to Mr Sunter, a “jack of all trades", who could mend watches, shoe horses, dispense medicines and trade in a variety of goods AND PULL TEETH!

Over the next fifty years other general stores like Pries, Lockharts, Prossers, Barnards, Bovells and Cross’s served the community and became social hubs where folk would gather to talk news, both locally and from Perth. At that time there were no restrictions on late night trading and the “Cross General Store” was open until late at night. Mr Cross and his daughter would while away the time between sales by playing draughts on the shop counter.

The local general merchant store had now become a “One Stop Shop” where people from the town and surrounding areas came to purchase all of their goods including groceries, vegetables, wheat, fryingpans, kettles, boots, hats, pesticides, tobacco, oats, chaff, rabbit traps, toys, tilley lamps, buckets, drapery, manchester, crockery, clothing wear, billy cans, mattocks over the counter.

In 1917 Mr B.G.L Killerby opened his first store in Busselton selling mostly chaff, bran, wheat, oats and a few grocery lines. By 1936, Killerbys Store had become WA's biggest country store organisation with outlets in Cowaramup, Margaret River, Manjimup and Jarrahwood and a brand new purpose built store in Busselton with individual drapery, hardware, grocery, pharmacy, bulkstore and despatch departments. A lot of goods were now pre-packaged which enabled the customer to be served a lot quicker over the shop counter.

In 1919 T.W. Peake opened a general merchant store to rival Killerbys and serviced the Vasse community for 48 years until 1967 when the family sold the business to “Tom the Cheap“ grocery store.

By the 1950’s the general store was being replaced by the supermarket. The front counter was superceded by impersonal multiple cash registers at checkout lanes. The customers could now fill baskets with items they selected themselves from rows of shelves and then proceed to pay the cashier in a fast checkout lane.

Details

Details

Registration number
cwa-org-124-2020:864
Item type
Material
Width
3020 mm
Height or length
940 mm
Depth
900 mm
Themes
Contextual Information

It is unknown which Busselton general merchant store used this store counter, however, it could have taken pride of place in any of the stores mentioned here. The surface patina, built up over many years with all its scratches and stains, is part of its character and social value and reflects its life in a bygone era.

Keywords
Busselton
COMMERCE
General Store
Country
Australia
State
WA
Year
c. 1880 - 1890
Primary significance criteria
Historic significance
Social or spiritual significance
Comparative significance criteria
Object’s condition or completeness
Related Objects

Related Objects

Busselton Historical Society

Busselton Historical Society

Organisation Details
View Collection
Shop Counter
General store interior c 1890-1920
Interior of general store with merchandise on shelves and shop keeper waiting to serve over the shop counter. B Bolton family storer, Port Melbourne, Algernon Darge, c 1913. Image H94.1828 from State Library Victoria.