By Patrick Avenell
Last week, the Bridglands shopping complex in Mullumbimby, northern NSW, celebrated its 100th birthday. This centre is home to the local Retravision store, which is owned by local product Rob Bridgland.
The store has been operating continuously since 1908 when Bridgland’s grandfather lent his name to the operations. Grandfather Bridgland had seven children, three of whom worked in the store. Two of them formed a partnership with their father in 1946, and in 1955 it became a proprietary business.
Rob Bridgland first worked at the store after leaving school in 1979. In 1984 he moved to Sydney to work at the then Alan Bond-owned Waltons Norman Ross. He returned in 1990 and bought the business, and has been running it ever since.
“We’ve been here a long time, we’re certainly a very solid, reputable business,” replied Bridgland when asked how the store had managed such longevity. “We seem to be immune to the ups and downs, we don’t see the big swings. The Retravision name is very strong in this area.”
Over the week-long celebrations to commemorate the centenary anniversary, the store held a competition to find the customer with the oldest purchase invoice. The winning receipt was from 1976 – not as old as Bridgland was hoping for – but still good for the winner who received a washing machine as a prize. This was presented by Byron Shire Council Mayor Jan Barham, who was presumably standing in for Queen Elizabeth II at this 100 years birthday party.
Also coming back for the party were many former employees and associates.
“On the Friday, we had a lot of staff who’d worked back in the 30s and 40s come into visit. A lot of older people from the business, some in their 80s, come in to enjoy it too,” said Bridgland.
The party was not just for the staff, but also for the accountants, with Bridgland reporting that the birthday week was biggest week of sales in the store’s history – if only you could turn 100 every week.