80th anniversary of Parkes' Coles Variety Store

September 22 this year marks the 80th anniversary of the opening of Coles Variety Store in Parkes.

The art-deco building at 225-227 Clarinda Street, next door to the Royal Hotel, was constructed 80 years ago as part of the rapidly expanding Coles Variety Store chain.

The first Coles store was opened by George James Cole (GJ as he was affectionately known) on April 9, 1914 on Smith Street Collingwood, Victoria.

In 1919 after returning from the war, GJ left the original store to his uncle, and in partnership with Arthur, opened what became Coles Store No. 1 further up the street at 172 Smith Street Collingwood.

A catch-cry of the Coles Stores was ‘Nothing Over 2/6’ (25 cents). This was emblazoned across the front awnings of the shops and remained for over 2 decades.    

It can be seen on the awning in the photograph of the Parkes store, taken shortly after its opening.

The numbering of the Coles stores became a tradition, and when the Parkes store was built it became No. 59. Postal address was PO Box 61.

The unique architecture of the buildings was replicated across many of the Coles stores throughout the chain.    The Coles store in Forbes (No. 67) was also built in 1938 to the same plan as Parkes. This store is now occupied by Flannery’s Pharmacy, and the familiar frontage can still be seen, despite alterations to the front display windows.

Coles issued a regular staff magazine, and in a the Real Estate section of the magazine at the time, recorded the opening of the Parkes store and noted a population of approximately 7000 (although earlier mentions as the store was being built quoted a population of 8000).

It also recorded that Mr C. Parkin had been transferred from the Box Hill, Victoria, Store (store No. 44) to manage the Parkes store.

The new store proved exceptionally successful, showing fantastic turnover for the time of 506 pounds, 17 shillings and 9 pence.

Takings for Friday the 23rd was 105 pounds, 14 shillings and 7 pence, and Saturday the 24th 284 pounds 6 shillings 9 pence.

The Coles Variety Store in Parkes operated up until 1989 when it combined with Fosseys to become Coles/Fosseys.

Following the purchase of the premises in 1989, it was divided into two shops.