It’s curtains for historic drapery
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.
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.