On 27 March 1929 ‘The Owl Store’ opened at 36 Church Street, Gloucester. It was a Self-Serve Grocery Store – a new method of shopping at the time.1 The Owl Stores were a grocery chain that had their headquarters in Newcastle and had several branches across NSW including Gosford, Woy Woy, and Kyogle.2 The basis of The Owl Stores’ trading was to sell products at low prices and wherever possible below other stores. However in May 1944, the food restrictions of WW2 were hitting the community hard and onions, potatoes and matches were in short supply. The Owl Store was taken to court for selling these items for above the fixed price and were fined heavily for it.3 In other ways though, the store was most generous in its support of the local community including schools, the Red Cross, churches and sporting teams.4
Spiros Vlandis, billiard room proprietor bought The Owl Store in 1938 from William Sellick.5 The store manager Herbert James ‘Jim’ Oldfield after working in the store for many years eventually bought the property in 1955.6 The shop was then sold to Ronald Mervyn Dundas, a grazier from Rookhurst in 1976.7 On 31 December 1983, the Owl Store closed its doors after 54 years in business. Dundas owned the freehold on the building and also owned the former Majestic Theatre. Valley Sport and Toy Centre took over the store in 1984. The proprietor of the toy store, John McDonald, was happy to move into this bigger store because he could display a full-sized trampoline in there.8
Since then the store has been occupied by Base Camp Warehouse, Gloucester Building Services, Affordable Sheds, Harvey World Travel and Holiday Coast Credit Union.9
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Gloucester Advocate, 22 March 1929, 2.
2 Gosford Times and Wyong District Advocate, 11 March 1926, 8; Kyogle Examiner, 8 December 1933, 7.
3 Gloucester Advocate, 12 May 1944, 2.
4 Variety of news articles from the Gloucester Advocate 1929 – 1953.
5 NSW LRS Bk-No: 1816-653.
6 NSW LRS Bk-No: 2359-42; Gloucester Advocate, 25 January 1984.
7 NSW LRS Bk-No: 3227-274.
8 Gloucester Advocate, 25 January 1984.
9 Notes on Church Street shops held at the Gloucester Museum.