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Tuesday, 28 June  2005  Quorn Store

We visit Quorn where the local store is closing down after more than 150 years.

PHYLLIS HILDER: Good Morning Karen. Two minutes to go. It's going to be a lovely day.

JAMES COVENTRY: Phyllis Hilder opens R. W. Foster's Great Northern Emporium at 9 o'clock every morning.

PHYLLIS HILDER: You've got to give the old girl time to get in and get organised.

JAMES COVENTRY: She's been doing it for most of her 66 years.

PHYLLIS HILDER: When I left school I can remember coming in. I came the day before my birthday.

JAMES COVENTRY: That was in 1952, 100 years after the store first opened in the settlement of Saltia just outside of Quorn.

On New Year's Day in 1879, Richard Witty Foster moved the business into town.

He quickly established the store as a retail centre for SA's northern communities.

PHYLLIS HILDER: We used to get people from up north come down and do their shopping.

And we'd send orders out on the 'Ghan' and so forth, up to Marree and different places.

JAMES COVENTRY: 79-year-old Mary Henery remembers travelling down from Woomera to Foster's as a child.

MARY HENERY: It was a big thing to come here. We used to look forward to that.

JAMES COVENTRY: It's a sentiment still shared by children today.

And tastes haven't changed much over the years.

MARY HENERY: Chocolate frogs, I think. Minties.

LORRAINE PUMPA: It's always full of history and you can wander around here for hours. Sometimes I do.

JAMES COVENTRY: But Foster's old-world charms haven't been enough to protect it from the competition around the corner.

JAMES COVENTRY: The bigger supermarkets in nearby Port Augusta have also had an impact.

PHYLLIS HILDER: A lot of people like to do their banking at a bank, and they go down, and I guess they decide they'll do their shopping down there.

LORRAINE PUMPA: You go to the stores in Port Augusta and you haven't got the same service.

You know you can come in here and the girls have a good laugh and they're always giving me nicknames because they know me so well.

JAMES COVENTRY: The laughter was replaced by tears this afternoon when Foster's closed down after 150 years of trading.

JAMES COVENTRY: For those who have remained loyal, shopping will never be the same again.

LORRAINE PUMPA: It will be a terrible feeling when I come up the street.

MARY HENERY: It's over now.

PHYLLIS HILDER: Thanks for being me workmate. See youse.

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English Bites - Quorn Store
story notes

R. W. Foster's Great Northern Emporium
An emporium is a large shop that sells many different kinds of things.

It’s called the Great Northern Emporium because it served much of the northern area of South Australia.

RW Foster is the name of the man who first started the store.

R W are his initials.

Quorn is near the Flinders Rangers, north of Adelaide in South Australia.
Quorn is near the Flinders Rangers, north of Adelaide in South Australia.

New Year's Day
1st January

Richard Witty Foster
Richard Witty Foster is RW Foster.

It was common in those days to use people’s initials when being formal.

retail centre
A retail centre is a place where you sell things.

Woomera is a town in the north of South Australia.

It was built as a testing ground for rockets and got its name from an Aboriginal word for a spear thrower.

Minties are sweets, or as Australians call them, lollies.

The word lolly is the subject of today's spotlight.

selling things to the public


What’s a lolly?

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