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‘Open All Hours’ focusses on work, commerce and industry. These interviews illustrate the extraordinary range and diversity of specific occupations, industrial and craft-based manufacture, and small business and retailing that have contributed to the history urban economy of Sydney.
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“If you put a hundred per cent into it, Redfern itself will turn around and put a hundred per cent effort into supporting you, Redfern itself will do that”. So says local business owner Michael Cuomo of the inner-city village he has supplied with fruit and veg since around 2010.The side-by-side fruit shop, deli and flower shop which bear Mickey’s name have enlivened what used to be the shadowy corner of Pitt and Redfern Streets. In this oral history interview, Michael talks about Redfern with fellow resident Geraldine O’Brien: its character, its demographic mix, and how it has evolved over time. In the entertaining excerpt below, Michael describes one of the colourful regulars at the shop.
Morris (Moshe) and Adam (Isaac) Perkal
Morris and Adam Perkal were well-known makers of bespoke shoes in Crown St, East Sydney. In this interview they talk about their early life in Poland, their experiences of the Holocaust, and their post-war lives in Australia. Their wide-ranging clientele included people with disabilities of their feet and legs, ice skaters, polo players, celebrities and members of the general public requiring basic repairs for their footwear. Both brothers lived and worked into their nineties and died within days of one another in late 2013. In the excerpt below they begin with talking about Hollywood star William Holden, then discuss some other very famous customers.
Peter Sakaluk worked for Cornelius Furs, a famous Sydney fur salon, in its later years. In this interview he describes his experiences in fur retailing and in the excerpt below he discusses the introduction of different product lines when fur sales began to decline.
Mick Smith was a major Sydney firearms dealer for many decades. In his interview he discusses opportunities, restrictions affecting the trade, including the Howard government’s gun control legislation of 1996. of In the excerpt below Mick recalls abundant business opportunities in the firearms trade after the end of World War II.
Ross Ellis is the son of Andy Ellis, of Andy Ellis Tailors, a once very hip clothing store for men. In this interview he recalls life in the shop and discusses the riding coats which became the mainstay of Andy Ellis Tailors in later years.
Ilse Huber talks about the importance of atmosphere in her 1950s Austrian-themed Blue Danube restaurant in Kings Cross.
Cyril Vicenc talks about his methods for attracting customers in the early days of his eponymously named delicatessen.
Ron Ries worked at Consolidated Neon and was involved with the famous Golf House sign. In his interview he talks about designing, manufacturing, installing and maintaining neon signs. In the excerpt below he remembers the best of the now dismantled neon signs of Sydney.
Lindsay Sharp bought The Golf House in the ’80s and renamed it Sharpie’s Golf House. In his interview he talks about his background in professional and retail golf, the sky sign, and the business’s heyday. In the excerpt below he discusses The Golf House’s origins in a music store and pawnbroker’s, and new and second markets for golf clubs.
Robin Landis managed the Golf House, his father’s business for many years. In his interview he recalls the history of the building and the business, and the changing golf retail climate. In the excerpt he reminisces about celebrity golfers and Christmas parties.
Alan Landis recalls the neon sign that illuminated the The Golf House near Central Station,s a famous Sydney landmark.
Rodney Jacobs was sales and marketing manager for Andy Ellis Tailors. In this interview he discusses the history of the business, fashion trends in the ’50s and ’60s, and bespoke suiting for pop stars of the day. In the excerpt below he recalls some flamboyant promotions.
Country music performer Slim Dusty recalls visiting Andy Ellis not long before the tailor’s death.
Christine Ellis married into the Ellis family. She talks about the changing market in the later years of Andy Ellis Tailors.
Harry Gatt was a customer of Andy Ellis Tailors from a young age. In this interview he remembers the hip clothing for which Andy Ellis was famous in the ’50s and in the excerpt below he describes the exaggerated suiting beloved of the rock and roll generation.
Paul Mendels owns The Nut Shop, a long-standing presence in Sydney’s Strand Arcade. In this interview he talks about his family’s migration to Australia, his father’s purchase of the business and the changing retail market for sweet and savoury nuts and confectionary. In the excerpt below he recalls the effect of World War II restrictions on trade in both the Nut Shop and the Strand Arcade.
Annette Bennett was a nursing sister in charge of the clinic of David Jones Elizabeth St department store in the 1960s. In this interview she talks about her work, social strata amongst staff and customers, aspects of life in the Sydney CBD and her husband’s souvenir business. In the excerpt below Annette recalls the drama of accidents and deaths in the store.
Stella Cornelius was a major figure in the Sydney fur industry for many decades and later devoted herself to the field of conflict resolution. In her interview she discusses parental influences, her husband’s trade as a furrier, changing fashions in fur, the develpment of modern business management practises, and her commitment to social justice. In the excerpt below Stella recalls Cornelius Furs’ most famous location in the Trust Building in Sydney’s Castlereagh St.
Marion Kilzer worked for Cornelius Furs for many years. In her interview she describes her every day work, In the excerpt below she talks about the range of furs available in Sydney before conservation movements began to impact on custom.