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    END OF AN ERA: Rob and Jenni Porter in their mother Kath Porter’s Dimboola emporium. The business will close its doors on Sunday after serving the Dimboola community for almost 50 years. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Porters packing 49 years of memories in Dimboola

By Bronwyn Hastings

John and Kath Porter’s business has been part of Dimboola’s shopping landscape for almost half a century, selling furniture, toys, second-hand items and laying floor coverings – it has now closed. 

Jenni Porter, who has been travelling from Melbourne to clean out the last of her mother’s business stock with brother Rob, has many memories of life around the shop.

“I was eight when they purchased the business, in March 1975. Rob was seven and Ricky was two,” she said.

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“Prior to that, my parents lived and worked with my maternal grandparents on their farm at Wail. Dad also worked for the shire at that time.

“They sold the farm during drought times and bought the shop and business.”

Mr and Mrs Porter continued the furniture shop’s running for several years, trading as JR & KF Home Furnishings, before extending into another shop and offering carpet and vinyl-laying. 

By the 1980s, the business was going well and they employed two people. 

Mrs Porter went into business with a friend – Therese Toulmin – and renamed the business The Dimboola Toy Shoppe, selling toys as well as furniture and floor coverings.

“All three of us kids got roped in, especially Rob and I, having to help out pricing things, stocking shelves, doing displays and choosing items from travelling salesmen,” Jenni said.

“Ricky was too young for that, but he grew up in shop. He knew everyone down the street, and they all knew him – he used to go to the shop for a social outing.

“When Ricky became unwell, Rob and I were still at school, and would go down and open the shop on Saturday mornings and during school holidays while mum and dad cared for Ricky, taking him to appointments.”

Mr and Mrs Porter would often travel to Melbourne to buy furniture, toys, and floor coverings to sell in the shop. 

“Business slowed in the ’80s and ’90s. Horsham was close and travel was easier, Dimboola evolved and got really sleepy,” Jenni said.

“Dad began making flywire security doors and screens. They sold the shop next door, which became the op shop, and then went into second-hand items.”

The business became JR & KF Porters Second-hand.

“Mum would buy things that would interest people staying in the caravan park, things they might need and small souvenirs that weren’t too cumbersome to travel with,” Jenni said.

The Porters supported many organisations, from sponsoring sections at Dimboola’s annual A and P Society show and donating sport trophies, doing window displays as part of town events, and supplying props for the film ‘Dimboola’. 

“I remember taking a lot of things to the hall for the ‘reception’,” Jenni said.

“I also remember Mum and Dad going through newspapers and mapping out garage sales, clearing sales and any other sales they could go to on a Saturday morning. 

“They’d start their day at 7.30am and work their way around – and of course there was the friendly competition from Bill Barry, who was buying for his second-hand business, too.

“That’s how it ran for about 15 years, until Dad died. Mum didn’t go to sales anymore, but she would buy from deceased estates when she was contacted, and would buy a bit from the op shop.

“Now we are getting rid of everything. We have donated a bit back to the op shop, to the Girl Guides, the Lions club, and anyone else who wants it.

“People are welcome to come and see what’s available, there’s lots of stuff here.”

The triple-fronted building – which Jenni believes to be one of the town’s originals – is also for sale. 

“The original frontage is still on the shop, behind the façade. I’d love to see the shop restored and used by someone for another 50 years,” she said.

“Mum loved working at the shop and giving to her community. 

“But she’s 80 now, and due to ill health, can’t continue. 

“Her favourite part of the business was the people – she liked to see people every day.”

Finally known as Kath Porter Emporium, the business will close its doors for the last time on Sunday at 2pm.

The entire July 10, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!