Mem­o­ries of Mo­ran and Cato

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page -

“When I ar­rived in Yarra­wonga, I knew noth­ing about man­age­ment be­cause I had been an as­sis­tant at Hor­sham and War­rnam­bool,” John said.

“The first shop was where Rain­bow to Camelot is now. On one side of it was Brear’s butcher shop and on the other side was the dry clean­ers, Ivan Han­ra­han’s.

“The lit­tle shop was very friendly, easy to man­age be­cause af­ter the sec­ond year quite a few peo­ple come through our door but prior to that it was hard slog. It was hard to get go­ing but I took that broom and I swept that foot­path quite of­ten, just to say good day to this one and good day to that one, and it worked. We fin­ished up with a good lit­tle busi­ness.

“In the late fifties Ryan’s gro­cers’ shop, (where Home Craft are si­t­u­ated) they closed down and Mo­ran and Cato’s got the lease of the premises.

“That was self-ser­vice. We were one of the first to open up a self-ser­vice in Yarra­wonga.

“What were the ad­van­tages of be­ing a ser­vice gro­cer? Time. In a ser­vice gro­cer’s, peo­ple used to bring a sheet of paper in with what they wanted and off they would go and they would come back and col­lect it and pay for it. We’d get their or­der up and put it in their car for them.

“What were the dis­ad­van­tages of self-ser- vice? We had to dress the store to make it at­trac­tive for peo­ple to buy, tried not to clut­ter the aisles, and to al­ways have some­body on that front reg­is­ter so they could get out quickly and on the busy days to have a packer there for them. We still carted those gro­ceries to the car.

“How did it change af­ter self-ser­vice came in? The range of gro­ceries af­ter go­ing self­ser­vice was very big. The lines that we used to stock in the ser­vice days-your cof­fee, nu­mer­ous brands of tea, bis­cuits were loose. When self-ser­vice come in-pack­ets of this and pack­ets of that.

“Self-ser­vice wasn’t a de­light af­ter ser­vice be­cause you took pride in ev­ery­thing you done. With­out hav­ing pride on your prod­ucts, the peo­ple weren’t in­ter­ested at all. And so, you had to have your store pretty well up to date ev­ery week.

“If I was to go back into the gro­cery trade again I would rather it go back to the ser­vice days, be­cause it was so friendly. We used to get all the news of the town and the district and - it was very, very good.”

Mo­ran and Cato was the largest chain of gro­cery stores in Aus­tralia from the late 1800’s to the late 1960’s when Per­mewean Wright Ltd then bought them out.

John Al­lan Thom­son was born in Don­ald in 1931. Af­ter leav­ing school at 14 he gained a po­si­tion with Mo­ran and Cato at Co­lac. Af­ter sev­eral years work­ing around the Western District John was pro­moted to man­age Mo­ran and Cato, Yarra­wonga, in Fe­bru­ary 1952. John re­mained liv­ing in Yarra­wonga un­til his death in early 2018.

Mo­ran and Cato’s busy shop front.

John Thom­son pic­tured in the cen­tre at Mo­ran and Cato ser­vice store in Yarra­wonga.

The early days of the Mo­ran and Cato ser­vice store in Yarra­wonga.

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