Bush's has the right stuff

Sharon Kemp | Bendigo Weekly | 30-Mar-2017

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CHANGING with the times is critical to the longevity of local business Bush’s Produce, the longest running in Bendigo in the same building, according to store manager Frank Webb.

“Albert Bush would have rolled in his grave if he knew people would pay $10 to give their dog a squirt,” Mr Webb said of the coin operated dog wash that operates in the Williamson Street premises.

The 160-year-old business has also had to roll with the times by stocking brands of pet food that cater to the more sophisticated diets of pets these days.

But it also stocks the same kinds of produce Mr Bush would have sold in grain bins and bales when he first opened the business in 1857.

It seems Mr Bush was not as successful as others who travelled to the central Victorian goldfields in the 1850s to find gold.

Instead, success came in feeding the horses and livestock of the goldfields, and later selling groceries as well as timber and building supplies.

Mr Bush also operated a mobile library during his lifetime.

Some of what he built remains at the Williamson Street property, including the stores which were from time to time extended further back to accommodate an ever expanding business.

The old stables that front Mollison Street have been converted into office space and Mr Bush gave land away behind the store that eventually provided the space to build St Paul’s cathedral.

Henry Backhaus owned the block next to his that faces Myers Street. He built a store for Mr Bush and leased it to him to sell groceries.

Bush’s have just vacated that building after occupying it on and off over the years.

They are still in business, Mr Webb said, but using space at the back and reserving areas throughout the stores for animal rescue agency Challey Animal Rescue.

The store could be around for 200 years, he said.

“I don’t see why not, the building is in pretty good nick,” Mr Webb said, noting other shops had to close in recent heavy downpour but the Bush’s store just had a few leaks.

The business will officially celebrate its 160th anniversary on Saturday, April 29, but Mr Webb said he was certain he had seen paperwork that showed the Bush’s opened in March 1857.

Nevertheless, there will be a birthday celebration in store on April 29, including a sausage sizzle and a pet adoption day.

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