The Role of the General Store

The way people shopped for their everyday needs in the late 19th and early 20th century was quite different from how it is done today. One of the most important shops was the General Store which was usually a family-run business with owners living on or close to the premises. The stores were usually very well organised with different types of goods in distinct sections, e.g. fabric, clothing and haberdashery would be on one side, food on the other, and hardware at the back of the shop. There might be a cold room or cellar to keep perishables. Dry goods such as flour and sugar were kept in bins under the counter. Friendly, personal service was the norm and shopkeepers generally knew their customers well.

W. Smallbone store in 1913, a typical general store of the time.
Advertisement in the Daily Standard , 9 August, 1913.








A good example of the general store of the 1900s is W. Smallbone  in Wellington Road, Kangaroo Point (now East Brisbane) in 1913. The picture shows a typical store of the time. Note the horse and cart and lady in elegant dress on a bike. A variety of goods at good prices is offered and personal service emphasised.

The advertisement offers city prices,   phone orders and deliveries.