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Another Canberra icon disappears – vale Allens

By jimbocool 14 November 2008 20

Alas, fellow RiotACTers, another Canberra icon is following the Dickson Tradies Schnitzel into oblivion. Allens, purveyers of all sorts of third tier brands has been taken over by Harris Scarfe and all its stores are in the process of being re-branded. Depite its inherent dagginess, it’s always held a special place in my heart.

The Dickson Allens was an emporium of wonder, the Goulburn outlet supplied me with a cheap hat when a car breakdown forced me to hitchhike to Sydney and the Ulladulla store always had the exact beachwear I required on my annual vists to the coast. Homely, yes. Perpertator of some shockingly bad ‘shouty’ ads, along with some beautifully self conscious (and slightly less shouty) lingerie ads, certainly. But it was a store with a certain amount of charm, albeit as a Cinderella that never got to go to the ball.

I don’t know what the circumstances are, whether it was a forced sale or merger – but its sad to see a local company in a traditional industry taken over by corporate outsiders.

What’s Your opinion?


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Another Canberra icon disappears – vale Allens
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tylersmayhem 8:20 am 17 Nov 08

Personally, I do my hardware shopping at Magnet Mart – a family-owned, Canberra-based business – but business has really dropped off at that Gungahlin warehouse since Bunnings opened at Belconnen.

Too true, too true. I have to say I do 90% of my hardware shopping at Bunnings, but out of principal I’ve tried Magnet Mart a few times (I emphasise “tried”). Out of about 5 visits to Magnet Mart, I’ve only ever walked away once with what I need. They just don’t stock a lot of things, regardless of if they are more expensive or not.

The times I tried I was after 1. Cow Poo – None, 2. metal dustpan and broom – cheap plastic hand broom available only – 3. string pull curtain rail – none 4. pots of basil – none, 5. small metal wire fastener – success.

Despite the staff in the Gungahlin Magnet Mart being miles more helpful, friendly and available than most of the staff in Bunnnings, I’ll still go to Bunnings because they actually stock what I need every time.

el 5:01 pm 16 Nov 08

Shop-Rite FTW.

Aeek 11:46 am 15 Nov 08

My memories of Harris Scarfe seem much like the memories of Allens.

farnarkler 8:39 am 15 Nov 08

Damn, JB Youngs takes me back a long, long way. It’s a real pity about Allens. There was always something to buy in there tucked away.

ant 12:50 am 15 Nov 08

I was always underwhelmed with Allens. I’d lurch into the fyshwick or Queanbo shop looking for manchester bargains… and they just didn’t have bargain. Spotlight is all over them in that department.

I did get a bargain from teh fyshwick shop years back, a humungous massive shiny fake black mink fur bed coverlet thingy. It must have been King Size, and was 30 bucks. Backed with fleece. i had to buy a new couch to put it on, and it was still way too big, and way to hot to use for anything.

2604 12:09 am 15 Nov 08

This is not directed at you good RA peeps, but it always amuses me when ppl start wringing their hands about local businesses being taken over by outsiders or shutting down, despite the fact that those same ppl almost never frequented those businesses before they were closed or sold.

Personally, I do my hardware shopping at Magnet Mart – a family-owned, Canberra-based business – but business has really dropped off at that Gungahlin warehouse since Bunnings opened at Belconnen. I reckon they have about 75% less custom. (That despite Bunnings only selling cheap, Chinese-made cr@p that will last about a week before breaking).

bd84 10:37 pm 14 Nov 08

pug206gti said :

I’ll be sad if it’s a rebranding in the hoping of up marketing and upping the prices – always good for random stuff on what appeared to be excellent sale prices.

They’ve had the chance for the last 4 years to do that. They’ve been using all the Harris Scarfe systems and advertising but with the Allens name. Only diff now is they’re green instead of red.

AndyC 9:00 pm 14 Nov 08

robbi64 said :

correct, holden, harris scarfe did almost go belly up a few years back. it likes old icons. they took over the venerable hobart firm fitzgeralds in the nineties, and all the locals still grumble about it.

Now you are bringing back memories. I remember growing up with Fitzgeralds…and Ventures, before they disappeared into a world of Myers and other chain stores…

Growling Ferret 7:07 pm 14 Nov 08

Bring back Supa Scoop!

I-filed 5:40 pm 14 Nov 08

Loved Allens. Utterly unpretentious. Trakky pants $8. Rayon short-sleeve cocky shirts with creases in the sleeves. Old Egyptian cotton sheets they didn’t know were there, dusty on a top shelf and accidentally marked down 70 per cent …

robbi64 4:43 pm 14 Nov 08

correction: that should be kingston and jamieson. don’t think manuka has a cassidy’s, but i never go to manuka. i’m too trackydacky for manuka … 😉

robbi64 4:22 pm 14 Nov 08

correct, holden, harris scarfe did almost go belly up a few years back. it likes old icons. they took over the venerable hobart firm fitzgeralds in the nineties, and all the locals still grumble about it.

guess we will all have to start loving cassidy’s instead (manuka and jamieson). they don’t do the cheap cuttlery lines tho, only wool. for knitting.

phototext 4:04 pm 14 Nov 08

Coincidentally I went to Allens this morning.

Cheap shorts, cheap crockery and a really great grater for $5. Love Allens, old school shopping.

I was wondering why she was using non Allen bags. Mystery solved.

I remember J B Youngs, the deli in Civic and playing pool at The Civic Hotel when I was underage…. those where the days.

tylersmayhem 3:51 pm 14 Nov 08

Allens in Dickson was always like stepping back about 30 years. Everything from the store fit-out, stock, right down to the staff uniforms and look of the staff.

Don’t get me wrong, these are not negative things (I have to be very careful to emphasise that these days it would seem). But it was always very Twilight Zoneish to me and my wife.

Reprobate 3:44 pm 14 Nov 08

You want a real Canberra icon store? Bring back J B Youngs – some of the Allens stores used to be Youngs (certainly Dickson, Morouya and the old Allens store in Fyshwick – what’s going there BTW?) For younger (no pun intended) Rioters, Grace Bros bought out Youngs in 86/87.

Holden Caulfield 3:17 pm 14 Nov 08

I noticed the hs signage at the Dickson store the other day. I think it’s okay to replace a Canberra icon with a South Australian one. :p

Although, didn’t hs go belly up, or very close to, a couple of years back?

pug206gti 3:12 pm 14 Nov 08

I’ll be sad if it’s a rebranding in the hoping of up marketing and upping the prices – always good for random stuff on what appeared to be excellent sale prices.

Skidbladnir 3:04 pm 14 Nov 08

The only ‘news’ is the rebranding.
Mr Allen (Tony?) of name-on-the-door fame hasn’t actually been involved for years.

kenneth 3:04 pm 14 Nov 08

Correction, 2004 (according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harris_Scarfe)

kenneth 2:58 pm 14 Nov 08

Harris Scarfe has owned Allens since about 2001.

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