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Jeays Hardware

 

Our History:

CHARLES Joshua Jeays was the second oldest of five boys and two girls, born at North Quay, Brisbane.  In 1896, Charlie as he was called, obtained a position with Perry Brothers Hardware Merchants.

This business no longer exists but the name remains on their former headquarters, Perry House, in Albert Street.  After working in sales and as a rep around south east Queensland Charlie ventured overseas in 1914 for a working holiday in the USA.

When WWI broke out he went to England where he worked in an armaments factory. 

He returned to Perry Bros and married in 1918. His wife was Dorothy Phillips, one of the 14 children of George Phillips of  'Portvale' on Flinders Parade, Sandgate.

In 1922, Charlie made the decision to begin a business, of his own and resigned from Perry Bros. 

He rented a small building and yard in Albert Street, Brisbane, and opened as Charles J Jeays Builders & Plumbers Supplier.   His two brothers Joe and Arthur soon joined while the fourth brother, Albert, took care of the bookwork.

With their trusty Model T Ford truck to make the journey from Sandgate they were underway. However, they outgrew the premises in Albert Street and in 1932, bought a larger building in Margaret Street.

It was at about this time that long-term employee Bruce Heydon joined the firm. Then in 1935, Charlie's son, also christened Charlie but called by his middle name Albert, commenced full-time employment. 

Nails came in one hundred-weight cases (about 50kg), baths, sinks and basins were made of cast iron and laundry tubs were concrete with roofing iron and cement also weighty and awkward.

Most of their stock was imported and their customers almost exclusively the tradesmen of Brisbane and its spreading northern suburbs.

As well, the truck that returned to Sandgate each night carried orders for Sandgate tradesmen. Plumbers Webber, Katterns, Lihou, Cushway, Lewis and Jones and builders Drew, Wakefield, Mockridge, Buzza and Sandoff to name a few availed themselves of this service.

After the Second World War began stock was hard to get and with young Albert and Bruce in the service, the brothers decided in 1942 to lease out the city building and temporarily relocate the business to Sandgate.

Charlie's residence in Regency Street (then Albert Street) Brighton was modified with under the house built-in and sheds around the yard.

Albert returned from the war in 1945 and the decision was made to keep the business in Sandgate and cater for its growth.

In 1952 Albert married local girl Elaine Young and while on his honeymoon Bob Cooper was put on as a temporary employee. He stayed for 37 years, managing the trade business until his retirement in 1990. 

The business outgrew this makeshift location and a new building was erected in 1954 in Hancock Street, Sandgate, by local builder Charlie Krause.

These new premises, opposite the current location, proved efficient for several years with their drive-through yard facility.

Joe had retired earlier and then in 1956, the business' founder Charlie Jeays died. Albert carried on as Manager and over­saw the next big change in 1962 - joining the Mitre 10 Group.

It had become obvious that in order for the business to remain competitive, it would need to join and share in the economies of collective buying and advertising of a group.  The group has continued to prosper, but Jeays Hardware is the only store of the original eight members.

The year 1966 saw another move - this time only across the street. The existing site was re-developed into the Bon Accord Shopping Centre with the long established Brisbane grocery chain Barry & Roberts as the major tenant.

The hardware business then moved into two buildings: one across the street that had at various times been a milk depot, a pickle factory, Pelaco Shirt factory and upholsterer, and the other building around the corner in Rainbow Street which was old Watson's Ice works.

Several other residences on the site were removed to provide the car park.

Not long after this move, the automotive parts and accessories business, Jeays Auto was acquired.  By this time, several changes in the hard­ware industry became evident.

More and more householders gradually began to take on jobs themselves. This came about mainly as a result of advertising, particularly the Mitre 10 catalogues, as well as the increase in leisure time.

This transformation was also fuelled by changes to packaging and merchandising away from bulk-boxed lines all behind the counter to pre-packed / displayed products all out on shelves for self selection.  The supermarkets of course set the trend in that regard.

After a short stint as a primary teacher, Albert's son, also named Charlie, joined the business in 1977.   Like his father before him, many years of part-time holiday and Saturday morning work had given him a grounding in hard­ware retailing.

Bruce Heydon retired in the early 1980s after around 50 years service as did Albert in 1985. Charlie Jeays then took over the reins as managing director.

His wife Marian has worked in the business part-time, as have his two daughters Sally and Kate, the fourth generation working in the business.

After completing his qualification as a motorcycle mechanic, Peter returned in 1987 and now manages the Jeays Aussie Auto Business. 

As well as running the business, all of the Jeays have put time into industry and community associations.  Both Albert and Charlie have served on the Board of Mitre 10 Qld.

Charlie is a Life Member of the Hardware Association of Qld, while Peter has been a director of the Aussie Auto Group.

We attribute the success of the business to the family's steady, honest approach to business and the support of good staff. The business has obviously been able to attract and keep good staff.

The staff's current total length of service to the business is in excess of 250 years.

Currently employed long-term staff include jovial truck driver Harry Jones , General Manager Ian Everest , and Ian Evans.

There is no doubt that retailing is getting tougher.

There is increasing competition for traditional hardware lines from specialist retailers, bargain shops and home shopping, but another problem is the battle for the disposable dollar in general.

With the control of retailing getting into fewer, bigger hands, the future for traditional retailers is perhaps not as clear as in the past.

However, we aim to continue providing the range and service people have come to expect from the Jeays Family, and look forward to the Firm's centenary in 2022.