The iconic Emporium Bellingen has been functioning in its current form, under the guiding hand of Ann Rosewood, for close to 30 years, within the equally iconic Hammond and Wheatley Building. In fact, The Emporium Bellingen has actually been a business entity since the early 1900s, founded by the industrious William Hammond and Arthur Wheatley, who supplied a wide range of goods and services to the developing district. The building itself was created in the early 1900s by the craftsman George Moore and bore the name ‘Commercial Emporium’ from its inception. George Moore purchased an American concrete brickmaking machine to make the blocks for the new Hammond and Wheatley store. The building, a two- storey cement block building, was erected in 1909 and was believed to be the first of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.
When the building was completed the Raleigh Sun of 5 August 1908 reported:
“The Mammoth Trade Palace bearing the name of Commercial Emporium is now in the last stages of completion. The building is of solid concrete blocks throughout, composed of Bellinger River gravel and Portland cement. The materials used throughout the building are purely of Australian origin, excepting the British plate glass. The timbers comprise local hardwoods and Dorrigo pine and cedar, while the ironwork is from Brown and Brown’s foundry at Pyrmont.”
Ann, you must have some unknown snippets of information about the building.
One night when I was working on the shop windows, my dog snuck in without my knowing. She managed to get herself stuck out in what is now ‘Hearthfire Bakery’. She was scratching at the metal door. At the time I was convinced it was the ghost of Hammond and Wheatley.
Your business is a local icon. What do you think makes your business so special?
Because it is so special to me I think. The people I employ are special. It exudes a sense of calm and confidence, which expresses the very ethos of Bellingen itself. We value our long-term customers, while welcoming new people to our community. We adhere to stable opening hours including Sundays and Public holidays- this is my way of contributing to Bellingen being seen as an ‘open for business town’. Our shop windows are a talking piece and will often reflect events that are happening in town, from festivals to the indigenous art we showcased around the 26th January.
What is the most important skill you have?
To be ethical in intention.
What do you think will be the next best thing in fashion?
I wish we could drop the ‘fashion myth’. We need to slow down our compulsion to consume cheap, wasteful clothing just because it’s available. I hope we are moving towards choosing more carefully because we are looking at the ‘price’ of the human lives producing these cheap items. I know some will think the Emporium’s range is too expensive. But I hope many people find satisfaction in purchases that endure.
What was your previous career?
Textile designer, conceptual artist, postie, dancer, mother, …
Any future plans?
Being a mentor to younger women; thriving emotionally, physically and mentally as a business woman; transitioning with the new owner of the Emporium if required; more yoga; opportunity for kindness.
What I would like to be remembered for?
Being caring, fair, flexible, committed and having a sense of humour.
Friends say that I am…
Like a closet fairy.
I go to great lengths to avoid….
Drug or alcohol fuelled conversation.
What I’m reading right now is….
Brett Whiteley’s biography.
It’s pretty uncool but….
I prefer person to person communication rather than texts.
There was political will to address climate change and the devastating problem of cats in the shire.
What really annoys me is…
People spending heaps of time with fittings for products they intend to buy on-line. Especially when they say they love the store and service!
The last big belly laugh I had…
Hosing a kookaburra on a recent hot day.
If I had the top job I would….
Empower others to embody the ‘top job’.
How do you relax?
Yoga, meditation and walking in wild places.
Favourite Shire eatery?
I am really loving Qudo.
Best coffee in the Shire?
I’m not a coffee person but I believe you cannot get a bad coffee in this region. We are blessed and the cafes that make an effort to open on Public Holidays are contributing sooo much to the public relations of this region.