They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Once upon a time, a Mrs N. Prior saw an opening in Kogarah’s manchester, childrenswear and babywear market. The enterprising Prior secured this corner location, bought out Berger Paints’ supply of aqua and got to work.
But that was a long time ago, and the babies clothed in N. (Nellie? Nora? Noelene? Nancy?) Prior’s stretch nylon babywear are all grown up, or possibly dead.
Who was N. Prior? How and why did her little shop come to an end?
The building itself, slowly rotting on the corner of Rocky Point Road and Austral Street, offers few clues as to its post-Prior life.
At some point, the cut price flower community, long jealous of Mrs. Prior’s prime corner location, swooped in and established A1. Banking largely on customers looking up flower shops in the phone book and being too lazy to scroll past ‘A1’, the shop doesn’t appear to have lasted very long. Business mistake number one: they left all of Mrs. Prior’s decor up on the building. Nobody likes a lazy florist, A1.
Remember Krispy Kreme? That donut (or doughnut) fad that took off in 2003 and crashed hard in…late 2003? For a good part of that year, everyone was talking about Krispy Kremes. Workplaces stocked them as treats, families bought them by the boxful. I knew a guy who would spend an hour in the car driving out to the Krispy Kreme at Liverpool to buy six boxes at a time because he loved them that much, and there was a time when that was the most convenient location. Krispy Kreme responded to the demand by increasing the number of stores, failing to realise that fads are fads because they don’t last. Exhibit A: Krispy Kreme.
Now a shadow of its former self, KK’s Australian subsidiary went into voluntary administration in late 2010, citing poor sales as the reason. Imagine how poor the sales must have been for it to only give up the game in 2010, a full seven years after the honeymoon was over. Even more mindblowing is the fact that the brand has been around since 1937. In any case, this site is an example of a location that no longer wanted doughnuts (or donuts) and voted with its feet…literally: Ugg boots are the wares being peddled here now.
Before KK kame along to korrupt konsumers with krappy konfectionery, Cue clothing ran the shop. Cue has been around since 1968, and since forging a relationship with Myer in 1970 hadn’t had as much need for self-contained shops. This one opened in 1976, but closed during the 1990s due to declining sales. That’s a better run that Krispy Kreme had. Cue’s executive director Justin Levis said in 2008 that the shop closed because the surrounding shops had become tacky bargain stores. Now that the ugg boot shop has moved in, this location has finally found its place in that dynasty.
The third time’s a charm for this place. It’s more entertaining if you imagine the history like this:
EXT. KIDS CLOTHES WAREHOUSE – DAY
A bold, shiny new sign gleams from the top corner of the warehouse. The owner stands outside, waiting for the delivery of his first shipment of stock. His assistant emerges from inside.
ASSISTANT: The supplier just called to say the shipment should be here any minute!
OWNER: Great! We’re gonna make a killing!
The truck chugs up the road and pulls in. As the assistant signs for the order, the stock is unloaded. The owner notices it’s nothing but ladies clothing. He holds it up for the assistant to see.
OWNER: You idiot!
EXT. LADIES CLOTHES WAREHOUSE – DAY
A bold, shiny NEWER sign gleams above the doorway of the warehouse. The owner finishes tossing the last of the Kids Clothes sign into the skip as the truck drives up the street towards the warehouse. The assistant gingerly emerges from inside, holding an order slip.
ASSISTANT: Uh, boss…the shipment…I’m sorry…
The owner shuts his eyes and sighs.
The truck pulls up. The driver opens the back door, and hundreds of shoes pour out.
EXT. THE SHOE DEPOT WAREHOUSE – DAY
The biggest, boldest sign yet sits above the doorway. The Ladies Clothing sign has been halfheartedly spraypainted over. A sign sits in the front window – it reads ‘ASSISTANT WANTED’.
The failure of Niche Menswear proves that targeting a niche never works out financially. Scandals Direct have chosen to ignore that lesson, catering to the 1% of the public who demanded the middleman be cut out of their scandals. Niche work if you can get it.
SCANDALOUS UPDATE: According to eagle-eyed and fashion conscious reader Vanessa, it was actually called NICHOLAS Menswear once upon a time. Luckily, if you read my writeup and imagine it says Nicholas instead of Niche, it still works. In this case though, shouldn’t they have called it Manswear?
Kim Sun Young provides Strathfield with its hair, beauty and wedding needs, but the dirty alley behind the shop gives us a history lesson.
I’m guessing it was a shoe shop. Why you would advertise in any way in such a dingy back alley escapes me, but I imagine that they chose to put up a Dunlops sign to discourage thieves who were perhaps expecting Nikes. That said, for all I know it could have been a golf ball shop and the sign’s there to discourage thieves expecting Titleists. And if you think I made a baseless comment just now about varying quality of golf balls, don’t think I didn’t do my homework.
UPDATE: Turns out I didn’t do my homework. Dunlop’s was actually a clothing and haberdashery store, and existed until at least 1980. Before that it was Reynolds’ Drapery. Mine was a pretty good guess though, right? Big thanks to Cathy Jones and her Strathfield History Images blog!