This is an advertisement in the Courier, for Christmas 1899.
CHRISTMAS IN THE SHOPS
SHAW AND SONS
Messrs. Shaw and Sons have the advantage of
very central premises in Queen Street and most
commodious they are, too, or they would never
contain anything like the amount of stock that is
now to be seen by the visitor. This firm deals
extensively in furnishings and builders’ ironmongery,
in addition to carrying a full assortment of glass
and chinaware, fancy goods, toys, &c. As a
matter of course, these latter lines are just now
mostly in evidence. Charming ornaments of in-
numerable kinds, dinner, tea, and dessert sets,
electro-plated ware, cutlery, &c., are much in evi-
dence. In the way of toys, the manager, giving
a comprehensive sweep of his hand around, says,
“We have everything,” and it really seems to be
no empty boast as the eye falls in rapid succession
on dolls, mechanical toys, and what not. To
those whose minds and purses run to something
substantial in the way of a present for their
friends, there is a good stock of jewelry to select
from, silver and gold brooches, Waltham or Water-
bury watches, &c. The windows are bright with
electro-plated ware, and leather goods, ladies’
purses, travelling companions, and gents’ goods
are in varied supply. Biscuit-china figures are
quant and dainty, while the epergnes surprise one
with their freshness of design and colour. Cricket
goods, for the boy’s 5s. bat to the weapon as
used in Australia national cricket victories, give
promise of some happy athletic days during the
holidays, and to those who prefer other pleasures
there are tennis sets and innumerable other classes
of sporting requisites. Indoor games for the even-
ings are displayed side by side with ice chests
and refrigerators, such as everyone can find a use
for during the present weather.
In the later part of the 1800’s, George Shaw moved from England to Brisbane. I don’t know why, or how there was the skill and money to establish a shop, but the Brisbane Courier shows the Christmas advertisement above, at 1899.
There was another shop for ironmongery in the same location, all this happening around the corners of Queen and Edward Streets, owned by an Albert Shaw, who serviced Queensland with a well regarded business and reputation. Albert moved to Perth in his later years to be with a Church. The church was always a part of city life, and there are historic photographs of Sunday School processions in Queen Street.
George Shaw’s shop was a “grocery” shop, which sold all manner of things, including sewing machines, and pipes. There was obviously some connection to Albert Shaw. George Shaw had a genealogy connection with the writer and social commentator George Bernard Shaw, who was on the other side of the ancestry tree, if you imagine a tree that forks left and right. My mother sited letters from the writer.
Among George’s sons, Robert was a world champion shooter. I used to look at his many medals, including gold medals, as a child. They were small in size, and not particularly eye catching. Robert wanted to set up a Firearms store, and I am told there was some dissension between George and Robert over this.
The original store sold everything you could imagine. Where it sat in terms of quality and range, is hard to say. The store at one point moved into the new Granite Building, (1917) which no longer exists. It was a classy commerce building, and had one of the major banks.
Shaw and Sons was later bought out by Woolworths. The stock was put on sale, and the remainder was not re-sold, as Woolworths used its own lines.
The store name changed in 1934 to George Shaw & Co Pty Ltd, selling Firearms and Fishing products. I gather sports items were still included. Fishing was a good man’s sport in those days. There was an advertisement for the first use of a new mosquito repellant for fishing. There was some protest when fishing licenses were attempted to be brought in, but licensing never succeeded at that time.
It is hard to recall childhood memories with Harold Shaw, and I don’t know the history of the transition from Harold managing the store to my father George purchasing the shares, (and eventually all the shares from other parties) and managing the store. In the 1960’s I recall the name of the store was George Shaw and Sons, Pty Limited.
When my father George Robert Shaw took over the business from Harold, there was a gun workshop for repairing firearms in Woollongabba.
This area was once home to Brisbane commerce – trains and ships. Dad’s new store was located in Albert Street, just down from the corner of Queen Street.
When the business closed, the shop was purchased by Wallace Bishop. The building had structural problems, and the costs were too high to repair. The photo below shows the structural rods that Wallace Bishop put into the building, that extend from front to back.
I have various memories of the shop, and the city activities – such as going to the cinemas – Mary Poppins, Earthquake, Jaws. It was in the shop I played with an IBM golf ball typewriter. Up from us was a deli, that sold real milk shakes and rocky road, deep fried potato scallops and Chiko rolls with salt.
Dad’s store sold firearms, fishing, archery as a new line, ammunition, explosive powder, binoculars and telescopic sights, later pistols that the police purchased, trophies, torches, hunting gear, and knives – big knives. There was a gun smith workshop on the upper floor.
The shop bought out Watsons Sports store, and then sold every sporting good you could imagine.
As I grew up with many hours in the store, I learnt first hand the difference between average and quality products in this industry, and that sense has carried across to building materials and construction as my parents built new homes across the years.
I saw first hand, the unfortunate situation of staff theft, and the bad practice of offering discounts to the point that customers were always asking for a cut. That practice had to stop, and fortunately today it is very controlled.
I would like to note that my Dad knew all the key players in Australia. There is not one person who controlled a major brand that he was not friends with, including the big names such as Winchester, or Alvey, for example.
In the photos below, I have put in the lane-way beside the Albert Street building. It always smells the same, irrespective of the changes in buildings over the years. We used to watch Dad back a trailer in, narrowly missing the walls, to load up boxes of trash from the back of the shop.