‘Dan Bros’ was the first Lebanese family to set up business in Taree in 1932.1 Nicholas Dan arrived in Australia in 1927 with his brother Toufic ‘George’, mother and aunt from Beirut.2 Their older brother Wadih was already in Australia. The family was sponsored by their uncle George Dan who was a well-known warehouseman in an area of Redfern known as ‘Little Lebanon’. Like most early Lebanese immigrants Wadih would have worked as a haberdashery hawker using suitcases from his uncle’s warehouse.3 Nicholas however was a trained barber and his first job was in Kings Cross where he studied English at night school before moving to Tullamore for 18 months to cut shearers’ hair.4
In 1929 the three brothers moved to Gloucester and opened a drapery store.5 They also travelled throughout the region as far as Macksville and Mt George hawking clothes from their Chevrolet van. In 1932, leaving Toufic to continue the Gloucester store, Nicholas and Wadih established a business in Manning Street, Taree. Wadih later opened a second Taree store in Victoria Street.6
‘Dan Bros’ was renamed ‘Nicholas Dan’ in 1947 and later ‘Dan’s Frock Salon’.7 In 1963 when the Manning Arcade was built the business moved a few metres to the premises now occupied by ‘Dan’s Ladies Wear’. The store specialised in women’s clothing using the skills of Nicholas’ wife Angele who, as a seamstress, sewed shift dresses during summer to sell in the shop. After Nicholas’ death in 1985 Angele continued running the shop and in 2002 following her death,8 their son George took over the business. 87 years later the business is an icon of Taree and testament to the hard work of this early immigrant family.
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Taree map, surveyed by A R Armstrong, Fire and accident underwriters Association of NSW, October 1930; Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 15 February 1933, 3.
2 NAA: SP1121/1, Domaney Nicholas.
3 Paul Convy, Dr Anne Monsour, Lebanese Settlement in New South Wales: A Thematic History, July 2008. http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au/mhc-reports/ThematicHistoryOfLebaneseNSW.pdf
4 Dan Family oral history.
5 Gloucester Advocate, 21 May 1929, 2.
6 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 8 April 1939, 1.
7 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 19 July 1947, 5.
8 NSW BDM, death index for Nicholas Dan No. 100882/1985; Angele Dan, Manning River Times, 5 December 2002.