Created By: Uki and South Arm Historical Society
Early settlers used the services provided by big city stores that provided a mail order service or travelled to Murwillumbah. The first Uki General Store was built in 1909 for F. J. Ryder. He also had a residence on the rear laneway beside the store.
In early 1914 the store was sold to Mr A. S. Loder, a local bullock driver.
Fire on Main Street
On Sunday, August 30th, a fire started in the Uki Post Office, which was situated next to the E.S. & A. Bank. The fire destroyed the Bank, Post Office, Auctioneers Premises, Loder's Residence and the General Store.
After the fire, the store operated out of the Uki Hall (with the help of Murwillumbah merchants supplying goods) until a new two-storey building was built, with the residence on the top floor. The store re-opened for business on May 24th 1915.
The Biggest Store North of Newcastle
The shop sold everything, including furniture, drapery, groceries, clothing, footwear, produce and hardware. At that time reported having the most extensive floor space of any store between Newcastle and Brisbane. At one time, Loder's Store had a staff of 14 employees. A sign on the store's inside wall stated that they sold "Everything from a Needle to an Anchor".
During the time of Len Loder, the grocery section had sawdust on the floor sprinkled with kerosene to stop dust from rising. The back or bulk store had everything from barbed wire to bagged stock feed. The staff weighed out smaller quantities of grocery items, such as rice, sugar, dried fruits etc., in brown paper bags with the item and weight stamped on the bags. Many farmers bought sugar in 70-pound bags and flour in 50pound bags at six shillings and 11-pence a bag for the flour.
Most businesses was done by a monthly account system with the local farmers. The general store helped some people who had a financially challenging time by carrying them over until they received their cream cheque. One such farmer whose account was long overdue received a note from Len Loder with his account saying, "I would like a cheque with this" the reply came back from the farmer saying, "so would I".
The cream carriers would bring a shopping list given to them by the farmer to the store in the morning. The order would be filled, and the goods would be sent back to the farmer by the cream carrier. As much as 75% of business was done by the orders brought in by the cream carriers.
Cash purchases were dealt with by a cash cup system. This was a container spring loaded which was mounted on a wire. The shop attendant placed the docket and money in the cup, which travelled the wire to the overhead office on releasing the spring. The cashier put the change in the cup and then returned it to the appropriate section of the store to complete the transaction.
When shop assistant Lionel Mitchell was courting Ella Womersley, who worked in the store office, he would send up lollies to her via the overhead wire system.
The first petrol bowsers were installed at the curbside. These were seven to eight feet high with a sight bowl on top. The shop assistant pumped the petrol from an underground tank with a hand pump to the sight bowl holding four to six gallons. With the release of the valve, the petrol gravitated through a hose into the vehicle.
In the 1930s, the Loder family did a world tour and brought back crockery from Czechoslovakia featuring images of Uki and stamped Loder's store Uki and cutlery from Sheffield, England marked with Loder's Store. In 1926 Len Loder won a window competition conducted by a state-wide trade promotion scheme.
Mr A.S Loder had a mortal set on dogs coming into the shop. They'd do up the groceries and put them along the side of the counter on the floor to be picked up. The dogs would sneak in and lift their leg on the groceries, and he had a terrible set on this. One day a little fox terrier came, and he spotted a dog with its leg up.
Poor Mr Loder made a flying run and a big kick, and his other leg went from under him, and he landed on his back. They tell us people in the shop had to go outside to refrain from laughing.
Not the Dentist!
A room in the residence above the store was used by dentist T. C. Hawkes for surgery in 1926. He attended once a week, and the then local children recall how scared they were to have to walk over from the school and then climb the very steep steps at the side of the building to reach his surgery and then sit in the Dentist's chair when they needed a filling as "Old Chud" as he was known would use a treadle drill to drill their teeth.
Imagine him wobbling backwards and forwards trying to drill your teeth?
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Uki Village - Walking Tour