Coles Variety/Fossey’s/Bag A Bargain/Stokland – Hurstville, NSW

The Hurstville building currently featuring Stokland Furniture Depot is a bit like your old fridge covered in magnets that vary wildly in their level of ancientness. The site has put up with a variety of variety shops (sorry) since 1914.

While it’s currently Stokland Furniture Depot (at last, furniture shopping without the c—s), in a previous life the building played host to…

…Bag A Bargain, and that Escher-esque door to nowhere – a sight so crazy it’s clearly driven the Bag A Bargain mascot downright nutty. Earlier still, the building was…

…Coles Variety store (later Fossey’s), which acted as a thoroughfare to Forest Road. I hope the equivalent sign at the front of the building on Forest Road warned thoroughfare users of the doozy of a step waiting for them on the other side of the door.

UPDATE: Thanks to this Leader article from December 1989, we can finally know what caused Coles Variety to pack up and leave. Spoiler: it was Westfield.

The Leader, December 5 1989

The Leader, December 5 1989

Even if we choose to accept K-Mart as the spiritual successor to Coles Variety – which I don’t – can its champions boast that it has an ice cream parlour at the front of the store? I didn’t think so.

12 responses

  1. Keep it coming mate. I love this sort of history

  2. I remember buying an ice cream shaped drinking cup from here in the mid 80s, back when it was a Fossey’s.

    1. Disregard my above post, I was getting it mixed up with the Fossey’s at South Hurstville.
      I remember going here in the mid 80s with grandma when it was a Woolworths, getting textas and scissors.

      1. Woolworths was next door on the other side of the arcade.

  3. I see these doors to nowhere all over the place, including a bricked up one on a terrace house on my street, and they’re like an itch I can’t scratch. What purpose did they serve??

    1. Those ‘doors to nowhere’ on floors above ground level were used to get heavy machinery (factories) and stock (warehouses/stables) up the upper level/s. The metal/wood post sticking out was used to attach a block and tackle and pulley to hoist things up. You see them on many garages on houses around Redfern and Surry Hills, these used to be stables and the upper doors where used to lift up hay and other stock.

  4. Coles on Forest Road was the first and only place that I got lost in as a child. At the time it seemed so large – I think I went missing somewhere in women’s clothing. I’m so old that I can remember the days prior to centralized checkouts at the front and back of the store. Each department had their own checkouts and the shop assistants would often stand surrounded by a square of display cabinets. Cracker Night was my favourite, and the weeks prior to it were spent gazing at fireworks displayed individually in closed display cabinets. There was an enormous red Avery weighing scale operated by a man that you paid 2c to be weighed. The bakery and deli towards the back of the store were great, and I always loved the smell of freshly cooking sponge cakes. For a special treat Mum would take us upstairs to the mezzanine level cafe.

  5. My first job after high school was at the Coles Variety store in Hampton Victoria, I stayed with Coles Myer for 20 years. Managed quite a few stores in my time, the history tucked away in the nooks and cranny’s was priceless and sadly probably sent to the tip after the stores were closed. I managed the Broken Hill store back in the 90’s, It still had mint condition newspapers from the 50’s in the managers office with “ladies” hosiery advertisements etc efficently filed away. Best of all the filing cabinet still had store sales budgets going back to the pounds, shillings and pence age. I kick myself I didn’t rescue all of it.

  6. My first job was in this building! Coles store 138, started there in 1985.

    1. I was there in 1984 and 1985 before I was transferred to Liverpool store 107.

  7. Next door, after you climbed up a narrow flight of about 50 steps ready to collapse at the top, you arrived at Mars Fabrics, I remember being dragged there numerous times by my mum and being bored to death

  8. I remember using this as an air-conditioned escape in the mid-late 80’s. The arcade through between it and Woolworths was always interesting and if I remember it right, had a great record store.

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