From the moment you stop outside Avenell’s of Bundaberg and look in their window, you are transported into a Christmas Wonderland with a 121 year tradition.
Avenell’s of Bundaberg was opened in 1898 by Frederick William Avenell, the Great Grandfather of current proprietor John Greenhalgh, diagonally opposite its current site.
The store, then known as F.W. Avenell, was originally a Newsagent, Sports Store, Tobacconist and Seedsman, in the days before plant nurseries.
In a link to the present, one of those original seed draws is still in use, as a prop in the Avenell’s window.
In 1913 Frederick’s brother Albert joined the growing emporium and “Avenell Brothers” was born.
In that same year they moved across the road – taking up the space which has been the Westpac Bank, as well as their current shop.
The large store on the corner took up two storeys, with an elegant spiral staircase going to the second floor.
The store was so large it had a music room where live music was played and sold pianos.
In another link to the past, current proprietor John Greenhalgh recently found letters from the piano manufacturers advising that they could no longer supply pianos, as the line to Hamburg had been bombed during the First World War.
Both brothers were well known civic leaders in Bundaberg, with Albert being Mayor of Bundaberg when the Burnett Bridge was opened in 1900. Brother Frederick was an Alderman at the same time.
Avenell's of Bundaberg's values tradition
Avenell's of Bundaberg has always had a strong family tradition, John said.
“My Aunt Betty, who is now 94, was an institution at Avenell’s,” John said.
“Betty was still at school in the early 1940’s when one of the young ladies who worked at Avenell’s eloped and Betty came here to help out for a short time. 57 years later she finally retired.”
One of the recent traditions has been the creation of a limited edition Christmas decoration.
“We started the tradition of limited edition, custom-designed decorations to celebrate our 101st year and have been producing them for the past 20 years,” John said.
“In the first year we produced 101, individually numbered decorations. We have increased the number by one each year and this year produced 121.
“Our customers keep the same number and we often say the only way that someone new can get on the list is if someone dies.”
The 2019 Decoration, a beautiful metal depiction of the Avenell’s shopfront, is the first in a new collection to celebrate Avenell’s of Bundaberg's 121st Christmas in Bundaberg.
“We would like to feature Bundaberg landmarks that have been part of Avenell’s journey since 1898,” John said.
To experience a unique Bundaberg institution where you can buy beautiful homewares, decorations and gift ideas (except pianos) experience Avenell’s of Bundaberg at 96 Bourbong Street, Bundaberg (next to Westpac Bank – which also no longer sells pianos!). More details here.
- Read more about Bundaberg businesses here.