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In 1923 Alf Barrett bought land between Commercial Hotel and F.I. Ward’s store at a cost of 1000 pounds. Two shops were built on the property at a cost of 1200 pounds. These shops were sold in exchange for a farm at Nimbin.
What an interesting beginning to a long and colourful history - it could only happen in Mullumbimby!!
Norman’s first menswear store, Stewart and Northeast, opened in Barrett’s buildings in 1924, the same year he married Alf and Queenie Barrett’s daughter, Audrey.
At some point prior to the establishment of Stewart’s Mercery in 1929, it seems Norman Stewart ran a music shop and an agency for a piano company. He shared the premises with the Barretts, probably looking after their store as Mr Barrett was also an Auctioneer and Real Estate Agent.
Norman and his wife Audrey (also known as Odie) were active members of the Mullumbimby community. Norm was Secretary of both the Choral Society and the School of Arts while Audrey was running a music school, and her jazz band was playing all the town’s functions with Norm on the Sax. You can read more about Odie Stewart in the Mullumbimby Museum July newsletter.
In 1929 the shops were bought back by Queenie and Audrey Barrett and Norm Stewart’s Mercery was established with a barber and also a billiards parlour in the back run by Stan (also known as Joe) Clark. Stan had worked for F.I. Wards store for over 11 years before becoming unemployed during the Depression.
'NORMAN STEWART.........THE BEST ADDRESS FOR MEN'S DRESS.......Often Tied Never Beaten,' a catchy headline for an advertisement in the local paper of the time.
In 1937 the business was sold to Stan (Joe) Clark but was re-purchased by Norm Stewart when Stan joined the services in 1942. Joe was a keen golfer and also played hooker in the A-Grade Mullumbimby rugby league team.
After he was discharged in 1946, Stan came back to work in Mullumbimby, eventually buying the Mullumbimby Jewellery store, which he and his wife ran for 27 years.
There is so much more to this story and we will continue to share it. We find it fascinating and hope that you do to.
Ref: MacKinnon, N (1998) What They Did