An evolving change of ownership

An evolving change of ownership

Norman and Audrey continued to run Stewart’s Mercery until 1955 when their only son Tom took over the reins.  Tom had been a fitter and turner in the airforce and had also worked in a bank prior to this.

Tom was married to Jean, the daughter of F.I. Ward, the owner of Wards Emporium – the shop next door to Stewart’s Mercery. Jean trained as a High School Science teacher working in Parkes and Ballina before moving back to Mullumbimby in 1955.              

Like Norman and Audrey, Fred and Bess Ward, were actively involved in the community. They were members of sporting and business groups as well as the Mullumbimby Show, CWA and Red Cross.

Following in their parent’s footsteps, Tom and Jean continued the tradition of community service with Jean becoming a benefactor of many community activities and Tom taking part in concerts and amateur theatre.

The freehold of the property was given to Tom in 1968 by his mother, Audrey, and the two shops were turned into one.

Tom and Jean continued to run Stewart’s Mercery and Gerard joined the team in 1980, learning the ropes under their expert tuition.

By 1980 when Gerard started at Stewart’s Menswear, Tom and Jean’s second son, Bill, who had a banking background, was working alongside his parents. Bill had helped to expand the business so now Stewart’s Mercery had another 2 shopfronts; Sunshine Jeanery (later known as Sunshine Love) in Stuart Street Mullumbimby and B.J.s Jeans in Byron Bay. Moving with the times, the trading name was changed to Stewart’s Menswear in 1980 and Bill continued as owner of the family business following the passing of Tom in 1987.

When Bill decided to retire in 2004, he offered to sell the business to Gerard & Sue. At that time, Gerard had worked for two generations of the Stewart family for almost 25 years. Gerard knew no other trade and with their children no longer babies, they decided the time was right to take the plunge and dive into business ownership. Sue had a banking background but was working at the time as a Legal Secretary and continued to do so until 2009 when she left to work with Bridglands in their In-store branch of the Westpac Bank, her admin and banking skills pairing perfectly with Gerard’s retail knowledge to hopefully make a successful go of the business.

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