Bell’s Hardware/Gloria Jean’s Coffees – Panania, NSW

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There exists in the collective unconscious a perception that in the 1950s and 60s, all men were DIY-handymen, and that Saturdays were a time to ‘do a bit of work around the house’. The proliferation of small town, independent hardware shops from that era seem to support this. Of course, this was long before the mega-chains rose to power, bought them all out, assimilated them into the brands and then closed them for not being as profitable as the superstores.

But because the Bunnings of the world are ruled by suits and not overalls, a sloppier job was done eradicating that old independent spirit. Ancient advertisements and signage, once lovingly applied by hand (on a Saturday) were left in place, seen by marketing gurus as a kind of ‘free advertising’. But they weren’t, man. They were a reminder.

Now we live in an age where the mega-chains that are buying out these strip shops aren’t even from the same industry. Since we can’t go five seconds without Gloria-Jonesing for an Oreo Bash Mocha Chiller, ‘little’ cafes like this one have supplanted more practical outlets in small shopping centres. What’s so little about Gloria Jean’s? And how is it that the Commonwealth Bank can’t support locations in Panania, Revesby and Padstow, yet Gloria Jean’s can pull it off without breaking a sweat?

But Gloria Jean’s, like so many mega-chains before them, didn’t do a good enough job in rebranding, and its Panania outlet retains its sun-kissed ‘Bell’s Hardware’ tattoo. We can be thankful that the next generation won’t have to endure a Gloria Jean’s one.

Or maybe it’s ‘Bill’s Hardware’. I can’t really tell. Bill Bell, if you’re reading this, get in touch. You know my name, look up the number.

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2 responses

  1. We used to shop here when it was a Hardware Shop. A very friendly little shop.

  2. Grew up in Picnic Point in the 60s & 70s. My parents often shopped at that little hardware . I remember ladders, paint tins neatly side by side with packets of seeds and bags of fertiliser. If I remember rightly the owner in the 70s was a tall, neat, grey-haired fellow who I think wore a grey dust jacket. What a pity these stores are almost gone. Even in the Sydney CBD a store like this exisisted in Castlereagh Street. That store I think closed only a few years ago.

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