The ghost of shopping’s past


Imagine David Jones or Myer with separate entries for men and women.

Once upon a time modesty in department stores was important. Customers wanted to refrain–in public anyway–from perusing the intimate apparel of the opposite sex, so different merchandise was partitioned off from prying eyes and separate entrances provided. Foreign as it may seem to enthusiastic consumers of the 21st century that such lengths should be taken, but it was only a handful of decades ago this was de rigueur in department store etiquette.

Albury LibraryMuseum has revived this history in its latest exhibition Emporium, which looks at the rise of the department store, ready-to-wear clothing and image-based advertising in the 20th century. It features Albury’s iconic Abikhair’s Emporium, which upon closing donated their merchandise and advertising material to Albury CityCouncil.

Abikhair’s Emporium was a family business run by Saad Milham Abikhair with his wife, Shefia who opened the store in 1928 after migrating to Australia from Lebanon. They became well known for their personal service and an extensive range of items.

True to history, Albury LibraryMuseum has even created separate entries for men and women just like the original Abikhair's!

The exhibition features a re-creation of Albury’s iconic Abikhair’s Emporium. There’s the original counter with imperial cash register, flying-fox cash handling system, and a breadth of original 1950s advertising material and old merchandise. The exhibition is split into different ‘departments’ including haberdashery, children’s clothing, men’s clothing and women’s clothing. And true to history, Albury LibraryMuseum has even created separate entries for men and women just like the original Abikhair’s!

Emporium is on display until 7 September, but don’t despair if you cannot make it to Albury in time. There are plans to tour the exhibition regionally, so stayed tuned. You can also view Albury LibraryMuseum’s Flickr stream–its packed with amazing shots of the exhibition!

www.flickr.com

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