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Sidney Myer

The Home Front: Australia during the First World War

Sidney Myer, businessman and philanthropist

Sidney Myer, 1918.
Sidney Myer, 1918. On loan from the Estate of the late Sidney B Myer.

The Myer Emporium opened in Bourke Street, Melbourne, in July 1914.

Sidney Myer, a Russian Jewish immigrant, began as a hawker before establishing a successful drapery in Bendigo. He opened a store in Melbourne in 1911 but as his success grew he needed a much larger space, one modelled on American department stores.

Myer was an innovator. He put merchandise on open display, held regular sales, and provided a creche for customers’ children.

When the outbreak of war disrupted international trade, Myer opened a London office to deal with European suppliers, sourced more products locally, and began in-house manufacturing. Despite the difficult conditions, the war years were a boom time for the Myer Emporium.

More

Sydney Myer in the Australian Dictionary of Biography

A corner of Myer’s toy department, 1920s.
A corner of Myer’s toy department, 1920s. State Library of Victoria.
Advertisement for the opening of the Myer Emporium
Advertisement for the opening of the Myer Emporium, Argus, 10 July 1914. National Library of Australia.