Home - Chermside & District History

Bush Store to Corner Shops to Supermarket

Early Settler's General Stores - 19th & Early 20th Centuries


In the early stages of settlement general stores such as the one owned by John Patterson (link) appeared which sold just about everything the new settlers needed from needles to ploughs and a few things they wanted from boiled lollies to a bottle of rum. The local farmers would come with their horse drawn cart and get a week's supply of everything for the family and the stock. The people living in the village would walk to the store for the mail, the paper and a day's supply of necessities.

People were used to walking as a means of getting from one place to another as many did not possess a horse and vehicle. Bicycles were common for travelling longer distances while the trams or the railway were for much longer distances. Many people would walk a several kilometres to catch the tram and travel to work, then repeat the walk on the way home; it took a lot of time so people did not travel much.

Butcher, baker, greengrocer, fishmonger, milkman, iceman and others would follow a daily or weekly route in a horse drawn vehicle bringing supplies to the door where the house wife would be at home. If she was out she could arrange for the goods to be left at the house and the money either paid later or left in a secure place for the tradesman to find. This was a very personalised service, everybody knew everybody else.

William Hacker started his store in about 1910 on the edge of Chermside. The area was mostly small farms and the village was a collection of scattered houses.

Corner Shop in the Towns - First half of 20th Century


As the village grew and the walking distance between store and house became greater small corner shops began to appear selling the day to day needs of the people living nearby; mostly foods, groceries, the paper, aerated drinks, vegetables, sweets, small goods, preserved meats and other small items.

The home deliveries mentioned above continued even after 1947 when the tramlines were extended to Hamilton Road and more people were able to travel to the city for a day's shopping, but that would only be every now and then.

They still used the corner shop daily and the local stores along Gympie Road once a week often by giving their order to the shopkeeper when he/she came to collect it and then delivered the goods in a cart or motor vehicle.

But the ownership of cars would change all that. The development of the internal combustion engine in the 1880s made a new form of transport available, the automobile which, in turn made people much more mobile. The unthinkable was happening, the motor car was replacing the horse and it only took about 70 years; remember that horses and bullocks had been pulling carts for thousands of years.

By the 1950s the ownership of motor cars was becoming more common, so much so that Australia was making its own cars Holdens, Fords, Chryslers, VW beetles and then there was the 'mini' and of course there had always had been the 'baby Austin'.

People were buying cars and they were travelling. The next step was to bypass the local corner shop and go to the bigger stores on Gympie Road in the car once a week where the prices were lower.

Daybell's Corner Store Chermside
Daybell's store was on the corner of Rode and Gympie Roads. The site is now occupied by Cheapies Car Sales. The shop was on the boundary of Chermside and Kedron so was easily within walking distance of a large number of households. As cars became more common customers bypassed the shop to go to the cheaper supermarkets. There are several pram/strollers parked beside the shop, a bicycle and several women. The veranda posts are on the kerb and could be used to hitch up the horse.

  • Reid Family - Link to the Reid Family Shop on Gympie Road

Shops and Personal Service


The usual method of selling goods was to separate the customer from the shop assistant and the goods by a counter, the customer told the assistant what was wanted and he/she would get the article weigh it out and put it in a paper bag.

The lot was then wrapped in a parcel or parcels, tied with string and the customer carried the lot away in a string bag or a basket or a sugar bag after paying the assistant who 'rang up' the money in the cash register or 'till'.

Often straight backed chairs were provided for the customers while they waited to be served. It was all very time consuming and belonged to a more leisurely age. It was also a more user friendly as the assistant and the customer had time to talk and get to know each other.

Inside Fisher's store shows the counter and behind it are the packaged goods. The three sales assistants were the only persond allowed behind the counter. They took the goods down from the shelves, wrapped them up in brown paper and tied the lot up with string. There was no sticky tape untill the 1950s.

Brisbane Cash and Carry - 1920s onward.


Meanwhile Brisbane Cash and Carry (BCC) started packaging groceries in the 1920s. This firm pioneered a new idea in grocery sales; they packaged many of the commodities which were mostly sold in bulk. The usual method of selling goods was to separate the customer from the shop assistant and the goods by a counter, the customer told the assistant what was wanted and he/she would get the article weigh it out and put it in a paper bag.

The lot was then wrapped in a parcel or parcels, tied with string and the customer carried the lot away in a string bag or a basket or a sugar bag after paying the assistant who 'rang up' the money in the cash register or 'till'. Often straight backed chairs were provided for the customers while they waited to be served, all very time consuming and belonging to a more leisurely age. Packaging enabled the customer to be served quicker and so the assistants could deal with more customers each day.

BCC and the Supermarket - 1950s


The next step for Brisbane Cash and Carry was to do away with the counter and let the customer stroll around and take the packages of goods from the shelves themselves. The supermarket had arrived and the customer quickly learned how to do their own serving. Meanwhile the shop assistants stacked the shelves and checked out the customer.

The supermarket was much bigger than the small stores and able to offer a much wider variety of goods and different brands of the same goods. Shopping was becoming much more complicated, but, it was claimed, the goods were cheaper.

They even had trolleys and the customer was able to carry a lot more goods to their car so they only needed to go shopping once a week.

As the corner shops began to feel the competition they had to stay open for longer hours, seven days a week. This enabled them to sell goods to people who needed something when the supermarket was closed. The corner stores which survived became known as Convenience Stores.

In 1955 BCC opened the first supermarket in Chermside on the north-west corner of Hamilton and Gympie Roads and the shoppers came in droves but there was a problem with parking. This was solved in 1957 by simply moving across to the new Drive-in Shopping Centre started on the other side of Gympie Road where parking was abundant. Thus BCC became Australia's first a drive-in supermarket in Australia's first drive-in shopping centre.

This shop was built as a corner store but closed down in the early 1980s. It had a house attached, a yard and a storage shed. It was ideal for the new proprietor who installed a large sliding glass door and used the shop itself as an office.