It’s cur­tains for historic drap­ery

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Shirley Way shirley.way@cnbtimes.com.au

MEL­LORS Drap­ery and Hab­er­dash­ery, es­tab­lished by Cedric Mel­lor in 1954 and her­itage-listed by son John in 1994, is clos­ing down.

A trained draper, Cedric Mel­lor fol­lowed in the foot­steps of R.H. and E.M. Beaton, from whom he bought the store, and orig­i­nal own­ers Overell’s of Lon­don-Bris­bane-Gayn­dah, who first es­tab­lished a drap­ery on the site in 1883.

Un­less a buyer comes for­ward, the last sale will rep­re­sent the end of 131 con­tin­u­ous years of trad­ing as a drap­ery store.

And it’s the art of the sale that has kept peo­ple com­ing back.

The store op­er­ates the only work­ing fly­ing fox dis­pen­sary in Queens­land, “prob­a­bly the only one in the world”, pre­vi­ous owner John Mel­lor said.

Taut wires sus­pended from the roof al­low two metal and tim­ber fly­ing foxes to trans­port change from the coun­ters to the cash desk at the back of the store. In its hey­day, the store em­ployed 13 sales staff. One of Mr Mel­lor’s fond mem­o­ries was in­tro­duc­ing a new saleslady to the change dis­penser.

“If we had a new girl in the of­fice, I’d put a mouse or frog in the cup,” he said.

Mr Mel­lor re­tained the change dis­penser for its charm and at­trac­tion to tourists, and chose not to in­stall cash reg­is­ters.

Cur­rent own­ers Bob and Mar­ion Hodgson will still work the sys­tem for a do­na­tion to the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice.

From his fa­ther, Mr Mel­lor learnt good cus­tomer ser­vice skills and the im­por­tance of pro­vid­ing qual­ity stock.

Re­flect­ing on the art of the sale, Mr Mel­lor de­scribed his fa­ther as “a good op­er­a­tor”.

“My fa­ther in­tro­duced 10% dis­count for cash only. They were lin­ing up at the counter, wait­ing three-deep for ser­vice.”

Af­ter three weeks, busi­ness would be back to nor­mal, he said.

Wife Francesca said Cedric Mel­lor had taught her a key les­son in a time when cus­tomers of­ten had an ac­count with the store.

“You make sure you look af­ter the lit­tle old lady with the black hand­bag – she knows she has the money,” Mrs Mel­lor said.

PHOTO: SHIRLEY WAY

FLY­ING FOX: Bob Hodgson, cur­rent owner of Mel­lors Drap­ery in Gayn­dah, pre­pares to send cash whizzing to the of­fice via a fly­ing fox change dis­pen­sary.

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