Jim Mills Menswear Shop
Jim Mills Menswear Shop, opened in 1956. The shop was originally 2 smaller shops which were purchased by Jim and wife (Enid) converted into one.
Shop 195 (left side of photo) had previously been a Pet Supply Store (W.J. Davis) and a Baby's Wear Shop (“Alice Faye Tiny Tots' & Children's Wear”).
Always First with the Latest Fashions, Jim Mills Menswear Shop on 193/95 Queen Street
Photograph by Paul Mills, 1972
Private collection, Paul Mills
Jim Mills and his children Paul and Rhonda inside his shop at193 Queen Street. The photo taken the year the shop opened in 1956.
1956, unknown photographer
Source: Private collection by Paul Mills
Newspaper advertisement - Jim Mills Mercer and Draper
Date 8 March 1956
Source: Nepean Times
Newspaper Advertisement announcing opening of Jim Mills Mercer and Draper shop.
The business name was later changed to Jim Mills Men's and Boys Wear in the early 1960's. Before opening the shop Jim hawked his wares around the district door to door. He built up a good following of very loyal customers, some of whom still purchased clothes in the store up until it closed its doors in 2010.
Jim Mills Mensland Shop
Photograph by Paul Mills, 2000
Source: Private collection of Paul Mills
Photo of shop taken after shop refit, Shop names changed to “Jim Mills Mensland” after joining the Mensland buying group. Mensland Associated Retailers Ltd, was set up by a group of retailers (Australia wide) who joined together to provide better buying power. All stores were still privately owned.
Jim Mills Mensland new signage
Photograph by Paul Mills, 2006
Source: Private collection of Paul Mills
Photo of front of shop after new signage to reflect the Surf Wear scene (shutter doors were air brushed with a surf scene to reduce Graffiti). Note Mick Fanning (World Champion Surfboard rider) in image on sign above awning, Mick Fanning was born when his family were living in the district. Another piece of history for surfing buffs is that Gordon Merchant the founding owner of the “Billabong” surf-wear label grew up in St Marys and attended both St Marys Public and St Marys High Schools.
Son of a Gun, 193-95 Queen Street, St Marys
2012, photographer unknown
Source: Son of a Gun Web Page
This is a photo of the current business now occupying 193-195 Queen Street. The business opened c. 2011 after the closure of “Jim Mills Mensland” in September 2010.
Surf Wear signage still above awning.
Paul Mills (left) and Eric Kent (right) examining an early map of Queen Street St Marys during a visit to the State Archives, Kingswood NSW, November 2017.
Interview with Paul Mills
My name is Paul Mills. I’m a research officer for the St Marys and District Historical Society. I was born in Griffith. My father ran a Department store in Griffith and decided to move down to St Marys to have a go at his own business. We moved to St Marys in 1955 and I’ve been in the district ever since.
My father did hawking out of a vehicle around Hoxton Park, Horsley and Rooty Hill, all those areas, door to door. After a year or so he decided that it would be nice to have a shop. A shop became available in St Marys and he thought if he could make a go at running his own business which was drapery, menswear, whatever you could make a dollar on. I have probably spent the best part of my life there, I mean when I was about nine I use to work in the shop after school and on Saturday mornings and that happened right until I left school. Then I worked full time in the shop up until I retired, that was, I think, I roughly worked it out, it was around about 56 years I suppose.
He (my father) had a good friend, who was a manager at Bonds Textiles at Seven Hills. He’d go down there and buy all their off cuts or starts of rolls of fabric and he would bring them home and mum would sit up all night sewing them into, sewing hems and edges making towels and all that, and then selling them in the shop.
My mum did all the alterations, any alterations on trouser she just sat up all night and she also ran the books, she was a marvellous woman. We were sort of well-known, I think for the smell of Naphthalene flakes which you could smell walking up the street. People either loved it or hated it.
It’s hard to believe how busy that shop use to be. I mean, we wouldn’t leave (on a Saturday, shops closed on Saturdays at 12 o’clock back then) till probably 4 o’clock in the afternoon, just serving people that wanted to be served. Our shop was rated at one stage the 5th best men’s wear store in all of Sydney.
He (my father) just knew all the right people that made clothes and he’d get all the latest fashion. We were known as “first with the latest fashions” because anybody in the area knew that they could come to Jim Mills and get what was being sold in Sydney at that moment and we would have it for them.
With Amco Jeans we were one of their best accounts in Sydney at one stage. We use to have a brand of T-Shirts called Crystal Cylinder which was just a plain t-shirt at those days. It was a very basic screen printed t-shirt that we just couldn’t get enough of and at one stage everybody had them. Same with Levi’s, we had Lee’s Jeans, at one stage we were probably the only shop in Western Sydney that had Lee Jeans. You name the brands we’ve had them. We use to sell surfboards and everything I mean.
I think you’d find most people today who knew him (my father) would still say, what a just generous man he was. He would give anybody credit that was just his love. He just lived for looking after people and you knew he’d go out of his way, you know if you wanted a certain item he’d go out of his way to try and find it for you and the people respected that, you know.
Because everybody had hard times, everybody in the town looked after everybody else it was just a nice place to live in.
Researcher: Paul Mills
Paul was born in Griffith N.S.W. He moved with family to St Marys in 1954 when his parents decided to open their own business. Paul attended both local schools, St Marys Public and St Marys High School. He worked from a very early age in dad’s Menswear shop and after leaving school worked full time. Paul worked 44 years in the one job.
After retirement Paul and his wife Margaret joined St Marys and District Historical Society, Paul is also involved with the Nepean Men's Shed where he teaches Pyrography (Woodburning). Many examples of his work can be found in various places around the Australia.
- Written by Adam Gatt Penrith City Council (02) 4732 7777 (02) 4732 7958 firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au 601 High St Penrith NSW 2750 Australia
- Back to QSRT 2018 - Windows on Queen Project