Eudunda Farmers Co-Op Society

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Fast Facts
Type of organisation: Business

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Eudunda Farmers operated in Gawler from the 1920's to the 1980's, primarily located where Ned's is situated in 2015 - 62 to 64 Murray Street, Gawler.

Fay D. Buckby (nee Davidson) joined the staff of the Gawler store in late September, 1946. “I was employed in the Drapery department under Mrs Dot Milton. Also in the department was Lois Yates (nee Bott), Betty Faulting (nee Eckerman), Merle Brooks (nee Smith) and Lorna Wiles (nee Goldsworthy). We used to sell dress fabrics, fashions, hats and haberdashery.

Transactions were written on dockets in the customer’s book and the cash and docket was put in the Flying Fox carrier to be sent to the cashier Grace Homley (nee Jackson). I worked there until September 1948 when I left to get married to E.D.(Ted) Buckby.”

Shirley Lucas (nee Davidson) writes… “I joined Eudunda Farmers Gawler in 1945 after I left school. In the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s the store consisted of groceries, menswear, hardware, drapery and fashions, including dress fabrics, haberdashery and Manchester. Each customer had a docket-book, where the assistant would write down each item and price, adding up the amount, and then send the docket and money in the overhead flying fox to the office. Grace Jackson, in the office, would return it with the change.

Jim Martin and Dawn Blunt would ride their bikes to collect grocery orders, then go back to deliver them by horse and cart. Heads of department were: Groceries – Darb Cullen; Menswear – Lloyd Chapman - later Manager; Hardware – Ross Davis; Drapery – Mrs Dot Milton.

Mr George Lang was manager in the 1940’s. Storage of most groceries was in the cellar. The cellar stairs were under the counter in the Grocery section.

To sell bacon etc, a leg of bacon was sliced in the food slicer, which was turned by hand, and then weighed into ¼, ½, and 1 pound lots. Cheese was cut into sections from bulk. Bags of sugar and flour were stored in a section behind Grocery, as well as onions, potatoes, and other bulk produce.

Photos of the staff members and the original store were taken in the late 40’s. Many men from WW2 came back to work in the store.

Mrs Springbett, from Williamstown, would come in with sponge cakes, and Mrs Tucker from Reeves Plains would come in with fruit cakes for us all to eat.

Memories of Eudunda Farmers at Gawler

By Elaine Phillips (nee Cockshell)

The department store of Eudunda Farmers in Murray Street Gawler (which in now the Ned’s shop) was a busy and very interesting establishment, which catered for the many needs of the local community.

My memories of working at Eudunda Farmers are happy years from 1958 until I left to marry in 1962. I was employed to assist in the administration office area. Getting to work from our home in Gawler East was a 3 kilometre push bike adventure along Lyndoch road. Coming down Lyndoch Road was a breeze, but going home up the hills, on a bike without gears, was exhausting. Like many fellow staff members who also pedalled to work, I secured my bike in the lean-to shelter area between Eudunda Farmers building and the National Bank.

The office area was situated centrally in the store, with the Manager’s office nearby. The Manager at the time was Mr Syd Foster, a well-respected gentleman. The office was built of timber with glass surround. Two and half sides of the outside office walls consisted of shelves which contained our customers’ account books. I remember my parent’s book number was 421 & my account was 2346. There were over 3500 of these books.

Eudunda Farmers operated a credit card system and all customer’s purchases and trading details were recorded in these account books. Being pre-computer days, a great deal of our office duty was to check all the data that took place with these accounts. It sure kept our brains in good working order!! With the credit card system, customers would regularly come to the office to settle their accounts.

With me in the office were Faye Roesler, Jenny Dieckman, Laurel Rundle, & Elaine?, who married Bob Pederick and shifted to the South East.

At the time of my employment, the cashier was the lovely Glenda Dawe, and when she left to marry, I was appointed as the cashier. The elevated section of the cashier’s position gave an overall view of the store, which enhanced the effectiveness of solving any issues more easily.

Eudunda Farmers in Gawler had a very busy Grocery section along the southern wall, clothing and footwear for Men in the north eastern corner, Ladies fashions and accessories along the remainder of the northern wall, and a Hardware section along the south western wall.

Grocery orders were taken either over the counter or by phone. These orders were then packed, ready for delivery. Delegated grocery staff home delivered ordered in the company vans. This was indeed a service much appreciated by our customers, many being elderly people.

Out the back of the building was the loading area and storage of stock, and staff facilities. There was also a cellar area which housed archival material etc. I only went down there twice, and found the place rather spooky.

With the “flying fox” cash transport system operating throughout the store, all cash dealings was centralised in the one area – the Cashier office. Along the cashier’s desk were rows of metal docket spikes for the placement of the customer’s dockets in correct order, as per the different departments.

Hectic times abounded, especially on Fridays and Saturday mornings. It could be exhausting, answering the telephone, receiving dockets and cash then returning change, when at least 7 of the “flying foxes” were going, all at the same time!!

I loved the experience and the challenge but, best of all, was the wonderful team mates that I worked with. Some of the many colleagues I recall were Lloyd Chapman, [Manager of the Menswear department], assisted by Bob Evans. Mrs Dot Milton, [Manageress of the Ladies fashions], with Margaret Kausler, Dianne Reid, Rosie Argent, and Heather ?, Jim Thomas, [Manager of Hardware], with Hedley Hammond, and Brian Thom worked Saturday mornings. Eric Schulze, [Manager of Grocery], with Keith Hobbs, Ron Curnow, Jack McLeod, Laurie Window, Colin Stevens, John Cooper, Cynthia Hammond (Hedley’s sister) and David/Brian Robinson.

Stocktaking at the end of June was always a brain absorbing time, with every department mustering “all hands on deck”. With items counted and checked, the numbers were entered onto the respective stock sheets. Although we had adding machines (not the modern type) we found it quicker to concentrate fully and add the numbers mentally. All would go well until you doubted your own numbers – then you would have to start again!! There were just hundreds of pages of the darn things. It was exhausting.

Face to face customer service was the focus. We had a real close relationship with our many regular customers, often getting to know their extended family as well. With today’s focus on computers and self-serve, this has been a real change to the way business was undertaken.

One of my most treasured possessions is my present laundry trolley which was, long with a laundry basket filled with gifts, presented to me as a wedding present. It was only had one new set of tyres during the 51 years since then when I married local identity Bob Phillips.

HISTORY FROM 1960 – 1972


Syd Foster, Ted Douglas, Doug Chapman, Lloyd Chapman. HEAD OF DEPARTMENTS:

Grocery - Keith Hobbs, Ron Curnow. Hardware – Eric Schulz. Menswear – Lloyd Chapman, Bob Evans Drapery – Dot Milton Shoes – Dianna Reid, Connie Elliott. Deliveries – Jack McLeod & Laurie Window. Office – Elaine Cockshell, Laurel Rundle, Rosemary Dixon.

The overhead flying fox was replaced with cash registers during this time. Vast renovations to the interior of the shop were undertaken. The drapery dept extended beyond where the old staff lunchroom was. The hardware extended past where the old delivery loading bays were.

Every customer had their own book (around 3,000) all held at the shop. They were held in shelves surrounding the office. Each department had a special book to enter purchases by visitors or one timers.

End of each month the office staff worked overtime recording the balances in every book. Then the accounts were worked out and accounts sent out.

Contribution from: Pamela Wilson (nee Dawe) – office, Rosemary Habel (nee Dixon) – office, Sheila Hendy (nee Clarkson) – grocery.

Memories by Brian Thom

Murray Street 62 – 64 --- EUDUNDA FARMERS Cooperative Limited

From 1958 to 1960 I was hired by the management of Eudunda Farmers to work Saturday mornings. I earned the princely sum of 2 shillings [20c] an hour. As a 13 year old, that was good money, and the 6 shillings [60c] for the 3 hours work enabled me to go to the Ozone Theatre’s Saturday afternoon pictures [entry cost 1/3d or one shilling and thruppence [12c], sixpence [5c] for a Koolapole icecream and then threepence [2c] for some “snakes” or liquorice or “conversation lollies”. (The rest was mostly squandered; no doubt on Jaffas or Fantails.)

I enjoyed these Matinee sessions which had Tom Mix, Hoppalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers or Tarzan (generally as a serial) and often one was encouraged to “dress up” in one’s cowboy suit, as there were prizes to be decided upon by the resident MC on stage. Mr Roy Bulloch was employed there as Fireman on duty, from memory, as well as being a projectionist, I think.

In Eudunda Farmers, they placed me in the Hardware section with its counter along the SW corner of the very large shop. Those working there included Keith Hobbs, Eric Schulze. My first job was to unpack the Tea-chests of goods that had arrived; often crockery with plenty of newspaper securing the contents during transportation. When completed, I had to sweep up and keep the back room tidy. I then helped out behind the counter.

My knowledge of hardware wasn’t all that good [and I have strived to maintain that level of excellence on that subject throughout my life; as my friends will attest]. Eudunda Farmers in Gawler had a Grocery Section along the southern wall, clothing and footwear for Men in the NE corner, and Ladies fashions and accessories along the remainder of the northern wall.

All of these four sections had several Lamson and Paragon ”flying fox” cash transportation systems which operated by a pull mechanism to send the coins and notes and dockets [from about 6 locations around the store] to a central cashier who sat in the middle of the store. Being a 13 year old male, I was smitten by (slightly older than me) Elaine Cockshell [now Phillips] who was the cashier. She was lovely and brightened up the shop with her personality. When sending to her the cylinder containing coins etc suspended under and running along the wire from the counter to the cashier, one had to be careful to wind the coin carrier correctly into its holder, as it was embarrassing to have the carrier travel some distance along and then spew the contents all over the floor. [Such a “Flying Fox” system is still to be seen in the Simply Pine shop at 98-100 Murray Street].

Jennifer Diekmann and Laurel Rundle were also cashiers. Glenda and Pam Dawe were employees. Eudunda Farmers operated a credit system so customers could “book up” their purchases. Accordingly, there were about 1000 books stored by the cashier, and each family had their own book number [ours was #592 from memory]. The purchase was written up, the original copy given to you and the dated copy kept in the book. Once a month, my father had to go to the store and pay off the outstanding debt. There were no credit cards in those days. If I had to guess, a half of all purchases would be on credit and the balance in cash. Being a regular customer, those behind the counter would generally be aware if someone inadvertently or otherwise presented the wrong book number.

All sections had a beautifully polished wooden high counter and today such counters have been preserved and presented in the National Trust Museum next to the Old Gawler Post Office in Murray Street.

Those working in the Grocery section were Jim Thomas, Keith Hobbs, Lawrie Window and Eric Schulze. The Grocery Section sold almost everything in bulk. One could buy bags of sugar, bags of flour and salt, and bags of dry peas, which could last one many months. Large tins of Viceroy tea and Arnott Motteram biscuits were on display. If one were to be canny, one bought the cheaper broken biscuits sold separately in a weighed brown paper bag. We kids were partial to “dog biscuits” which were large and thick and took ages to eat; dunked into a glass of milk or not.

Many people did not have a refrigerator and so it took careful planning to ensure food freshness was balanced with food longevity. Many homes had a cellar for food storage. [We did not get our first fridge until 1956 when a kerosene refrigerator was delivered]. Everything was weighed out in scales which employed the system of weights and measures; electronic scales didn’t exist. One also did not have a calculator and so one’s mental arithmetic was well tested. Coffee was generally Bickford or Lion Coffee Essence (before the availability of tins of Nescafe), and Velvet soap was usually sold in blocks to go into the copper- to compliment the block of Reckitts’ “blue” used in the rinsing water to whiten the whites. The staff in Grocery wore a white apron and had the mandatory pencil stuck behind their ear.

Most items needed weighing in the Hardware Section. Nails, Screws etc were loose and weighed out and sold by the Pound weight. The Men’s fashions etc Section was under the control of the very affable (and local sport supportive) Mr Lloyd Chapman. Lloyd used to ride his scooter to work and park it in the alley between Eudunda Farmers and NAB. Robert Evans was a salesman there in early 1960’2; as was Peter Baker.

The Ladies Section was controlled by Mrs Milton. I think her husband was connected to the EWS and they lived in their home on the corner of Ayres and Murray Sts. Marilyn Hough was in ladies-ware. Syd Foster was Manager for a time and others to work there were Anthea McRostie, Jeanette Davies, David Robinson, Jack McLeod, Colin Stevens, Rose Argent (nee Bishop), John Davis, Richard Davis, Ross Davis, Colin Hillier and Central Districts footballer Brian Robinson.

The front windows were always dressed well. Eudunda Farmers had a lot of support from a very wide catchment around Gawler. It was many a year before Coles, Woolworths, Foodland and/or IGA became competitive.

From memory, Dieckmann’s greengrocer and Deli operated next door southern side. It has been stated that the first occupier of the site was Sutherlands – wood merchants. Eudunda Farmer started home deliveries by bicycle, and then horse and cart, before utilising a truck.

Compiled by Brian Thom

Please have a look at the many photos of Eudunda Farmers and the staff by clicking here and here.

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Memories of Eudunda Farmers Co-Op Society

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