Wollongong Heritage and Stories

Category tag: wollongong traders association, awards, black diamond heritage centre, commerce

dressing the windows of wollongong

The Wollongong Traders Association was a collective of local businesses who came together to carry out a number of roles including lobbying for extra train carriages and stops on local routes, so that their employees and shoppers could have easy access to towns. 

They also lobbied for better street lighting, and in 1922 they requested that the local council purchase a ‘horse drawn street sweeper’ to keep Crown St clean.  They also employed a night watchman to patrol the retail district to ensure security, reporting on issues such as break ins.  They often empoyed returned servicemen in this role, when work was hard to come by for some of these men.

In 1930, a window dressing competition was established for local businesses to encourage interest in their shops and boost sales.  It coincided with a ‘Shopping Week’ and the local agricultural show.  Prizes such as sashes and gold and silver cups were awarded.  And there was a prize awarded for essays written by school children about the window displays.

Cateogories in the competition included butcher, hardware, furniture, perishable and clothing sections. In 1932, judge Mr Simons of Grace Bros, Sydney window dressing staff, stated that he was “delighted to see such fine window displays” and that upon arrival in Wollongong “he did not expect to see such a large town and such splendid shopping facilities”.

Some businesses were multiple winners of the awards.  The Ideal Butchery won the Butchers Section in both 1939 and 1940.

The competition did not run in 1942 because of trading restrictions due to World War Two.  The cups themselves indicate that the competition did not run after 1940, when they were handed over to the last round of winners.  

These trophies are held in the collection of the Black Diamond Heritage Centre and although sporting tropies and the like are often seen in museum collections, trophies of this nature are rare.  They are a reminder of simpler time when events such as window displays could draw the attention of the whole community.

Black Diamond Heritage Centre

Bulli Railway Station Bulli,NSW, 2516

4283 6429