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Retailer collects a commendation

12 Oct 2017

Retailer collects a commendation Image

By Chelsea Cucinotta

Ken Downie from Southbank’s very own Downies Coins is a recipient of this year’s Lord Mayor’s Commendations.

Established in 2005, the commendations aim to celebrate small business proprietors within the City of Melbourne.

Mr Downie has been recognised for “40 years leading one of our city’s long-standing retail traditions” in the same year that Downies celebrates its 85-year anniversary.

“Our retail store has a very significant place in our heritage and in my heart and to receive such an acknowledgement is a tribute to the family name and the continuous good work of our staff,” he said.

While Mr Downie has been leading the business for 40 years, the Downies retail legacy dates back to the 1930s, and began with Ken’s father Phil, who opened the Myer Philatelic Bureau. Downies has since expanded into all fields of collectables and continues to thrive today.

“It was a family business then as it is still today and we traded from the Myer store in Bourke and Lonsdale streets, Melbourne,” he said.

Store location has always been of prime importance to Downies.

“In the early years of retailing in Melbourne, having a prominent retail store frontage was the only way to do business and connect with your customers,” Mr Downie said.

“I personally love the steady flow of traffic through our doors – some days, the store was like the Melbourne Stock Exchange with trading, which is still happening today in our flagship Southbank store.”

Mr Downie said the move from the CBD to Southbank was essential for business, and Southbank was a more sophisticated location for customers to engage with.

“With ample parking available and dozens of retail and dining locations, we have noticed that our customers are embracing a full shopping experience and are spending more time in the store and in the greater Southbank shopping area,” he said.

“Change is always difficult, but change for the better is ultimately applauded by your customers.”

Looking back at his 40 years, Mr Downie said he was most proud of the people and good name that made up the Downies culture and he took great pride in the longevity of the business.

“Longevity in business is they key for me. As a family we have always thought about our future and how to improve on what we have done in the past. It is really heart-warming when a member of the public drops in to our Southgate store to chat about doing business with us in the 60s during the changeover to decimal currency.”

Another recipient of the Lord Mayor’s Commendations and familiar face for Southbankers is James Murphy from KereKere cafe. James ran KereKere South at Boyd Community Hub back in 2012, and received the 10-year commendation for “enriching communities through coffee since 2007”.

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