In the second such instance, Civic Video has taken up residence in a former cinema. This time, the Paramount Theatre of South Hurstville continues to provide movies to the public through the video chain. Let’s take a closer look.
The Paramount was built in 1934, joining a sister cinema at Mortdale (since demolished) and only four other picture theatres in the Kogarah/Hurstville region: the Odeon at Carlton, the Oatley Radio, the Hurstville Savoy and the Kogarah Victory being the others. It’s a pretty damn big building, with a seating capacity of 1,100 when it was built. In 1950, that old vaudeville villain Hoyts (boo, hiss) bought the theatre and renamed it the Hoyts. Sounds much better too, doesn’t it? Hoyts closed the theatre in 1959 (I’m growing more and more convinced there was some kind of Hoyts conspiracy to buy up the suburban cinemas in order to get people to head into the city). Hoyts made sure that a covenant in the sales contract ensured the building could never again be used as a cinema.
Since 1959 it’s been used as a recreation centre, a supermarket and a giant Civic. In the last ten years as video shops have declined, Civic has cut down on its floorspace, sharing with a Subway, a newsagent, a Curves gym and some kind of computer shop out the back. Cramming more into less space isn’t just a residential thing anymore.
CRUSTY UPDATE: Here’s a look at the Paramount in its heyday courtesy of reader Carmen. Thanks!
If you’re anything like me, you’d find yourself wondering what purpose a series of superconductors and satellite equipment would serve atop the All-Starz Performing Arts Studio, on Henry Lawson Drive at Peakhurst. Wonder no more.
Once upon a time, this building played host to a company called Dynamic Marketing, which produced several series of trading cards back in the 1990s. Yes, only in the 90s was the global financial situation decadent enough to allow a company to receive the bulk of its income via licenced trading cards. The company was such a product of that decade that it even managed to have a token happy mascot, a smiling sun-lightbulby looking dude. Pretty sure he’s giving the finger.
Batman, Disney, the Phantom all received Dynamic sets, with the NRL being the crown jewel in the Dynamic empire. In a time when American cards like Fleer, Upper Deck and Topps were dominating the market, it was pretty incredible that Dynamic made the impact that they did. Shrewd licence choices and well-made cards were among the things they did right. (Things Dynamic did wrong: a set of cards based on the Super Mario Bros. movie.) I like to think all the folderol on the roof was for setting up crucial cross-global meetings on futuristic video-phones, with hotlines between Dynamic and Warner Bros., Disney and… David Gallop. C’mon, use your imaginations!
Dynamic magically went bust in the late 90s, a time when trading cards themselves were on their way out. It’s as if Dynamic knew something we didn’t, and as we the public sat around anxiously awaiting the next set of NRL cards complete with holoblast foil inserts (1:60 packs), Dynamic were cleaning house, severing all the fibre-optic cables attached to the faxes, and taking axes to their hard drives. Today, the All-Starz Performing Arts Studio has attempted to paint the equipment the same colour as the building so as to make it less conspicuous, but we Dynamic faithful know the truth.
UPDATE: Reader Martin says that before Dynamic occupied this location, it was home to the ill-fated Catco Developments. Catco went bust in 1987, a collapse that had a severe effect on the tradies, subbies and builders of the day.
DYNAMIC UPDATE: Reader Ken has reminded me of Scanlens, Dynamic’s cardmaking predecessor. Between 1963 and 1990, Scanlens produced various series of sports cards, focusing on the AFL and NRL. They also made several non-sports series, but these weren’t the bread and butter. Scanlens cards also came with gum, which in a time before foil-embossed noctovision inserts were the biggest treat in every pack. It’s interesting that Scanlens stopped producing cards only a year before Dynamic’s first set, ‘Attack of the Dinosaurs’, was released. It should also be noted that Scanlens didn’t operate out of this address, just in case you had the wrong idea.
Hurstville’s KC Beauty Centre is one of those places where you walk in an ug-mo and walk out a glamour. Pity they aren’t so concerned about their building’s appearance…but not a pity for Past/Lives. Look up (below)!
Before KC appeared on the scene, this place was home to the rather no-frills Cut and Comb Hairdressing. Did they call it that so as not to give people the wrong idea? Would the Shear and Shave sound too working class? The Crimp and Coif too hoity-toity? There’s a similarly named Cut & Comb Hairdressing at Penshurst now, so either this place moved or there’s a huge market for no-frills. I’m going with the latter; just ask KC – they didn’t even bother to invite the Sunshine Band.
The closure of balloon shops are so commonplace, almost everyone has been touched by a tragedy like this. But there’s still that attitude amongst balloon shop proprietors that ‘it’ll never happen to them’. Well guess what, Arnold? It did. The over-inflated Hurstville party store market suddenly burst like a…well, you know, and Arnold was left holding the bag. His inventory vanished like air from a deflating…well, you know, and before he knew it, Arnold’s stationery venture was stationary.
Unlike Arnold himself, who’s moved on, allowing a new tenant to breathe new life into the vacant shop like air into a…well, you know.
Sometimes it can be fun to take a look at the evolution of a shop over time. It reveals a lot about the changing face of the suburb, shoppers’ tastes and the sensibilities of the time, among many other things. In this case, we’re looking at 274 Forest Road, Hurstville. In 1951, it was Food Fair, an extremely 50s looking fruit and vegetable shop. Now, take a good look at this picture. You’d never get away with parking a car on Forest Road like that these days, and you certainly wouldn’t ever see your bike again if you just left it unattended and unchained like that. Before the advent of the Westfield, or the Super Centre above the Hurstville train station, these shops were the lifeblood of the suburb that coursed through the vein that is Forest Road.
This one’s a stretch, but use your enthusiasm to zero in on the barely visible ANZ logo next to the Lowes, which is still there 30 years later. It makes sense that by the 80s, the banks had staked out territory amongst the little shops along the street. Food Fair would have had nowhere else to go but bust even if it had survived the 1978 opening of Westfield (which I’m guessing it didn’t).
Here we are again, in the new millennium. Now the shop is home to The Base Store, a $2 shop/party goods outlet. How shops like these were able to flourish in the 90s/00s is beyond me, but think back – they were everywhere. It all started with the novelty of the Reject Shop, and then things got out of hand. We only have ourselves to blame. By this point the bank is long gone, a victim of the online revolution and branch closures. Firing workers is the best way to save money, you know.
Which brings us to today. Oh, how things have changed (except Lowes, which appears to be the foundation Hurstville was built around). The former Knapps Butchery has become a Chemist Warehouse, and the party’s over for the Base Store. It’s now Butchery No. 1, or No1 Butchery as Google likes to call it, and fittingly too – it’s anonymous as hell. There’s the Rav 4 parked in the same place as the car in 1951, and they both have the spare tyre on the back. The custom facade of the Food Fair has long since been covered up by the dirty venetian look of ANZ, which itself has left an ugly stain (what a visual metaphor). The ubiquitous-yet-defunct Anata Awning has ensured that Food Fair’s legacy is lost to the world, but I can’t help but think if you tore that facade down, the Food Fair shopfront would be waiting patiently behind it for one more day in the sun. It sounds fair to me.
UPDATE: One year later, No. 1 Butchery is #10 in the Past/Lives Flashback series. Check it out.