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More Info →Oral Interview - Past Employees of the PDC Department Store, part 1

Recorded: 13 April, 2018.

Interviewer: Simon Johnson

Abstract: Simon Johnson.

Transcription: Leanne Hickman

Interview with past employees of the PDC Department Store/Co-op – Brian Yaxley, Royden Williams, Barbara Woodward, Vern Lumley, Alan Maw Location: Wharite Room, P.N. City Library. Notes: Recording slightly compromised by acoustics of the room and varying distance of interviewees from recorder.

ABSTRACT: Recording 1 of 3

0.00 Introduction

0.52 At what point did you start working (not necessarily at PDC)? Vern – hardware business at 17; Barbara –DENTAL NURSE before PDC; Royden – PDC, 16; Alan - joined PDC after coming from UK in 1973. Previously in merchant navy and Marks & Spencers. EMIGRATED to NZ when one of his wife’s friends planted the idea.

5.06 Previous education? Royden – left school at 15, “ended up at the PDC”; Barbara – started at PDC in 1970, had 3 children so worked part time. Previously trained as a DENTAL NURSE (not school dental nurse); Alan – basic secondary education, factory work before joining merchant marine.

9.04 Introduction to PDC and job interview. Brian – interviewed by ? COSGROVE and TREVOR HENDERSON. Year was 1972; Royden – only remembers INDUCTION COURSE. He started in BOYS WEAR. Year was 1964. Stayed there next 25 years, then moved to MENS CLOTHING and TEXTILES; Barbara – was “permanent part-time” in different departments. Manager was LES GOODWIN. Finally, ‘Buyer’ (i.e. person in charge) of Home and Accessories dept; Vern – Began as staff trainer, then PERSONNEL MANAGER for 10 years, then SALES MANAGER. Talks of “family atmosphere” which made PDC different to other stores. This was because it was a co-operative store with a focus on its customer shareholders, “not initially to make a profit;” Alan – while still in UK one of his NZ contacts passed his letter looking for work to PDC. Later contacts through New Zealand House in London. Came to NZ as assisted immigrant, worked in various departments then became Buyer in Hardware. BRUCE AYERS and PETER MORGAN were Hardware buyers before him.

22.40 Training. All started as sales people except for Vern. ‘Buyers’ were heads of department who bought stock.

24.45 Details of shop assistants – age, gender, All ages, more women than men, except in Hardware and Sports Goods.

26.04 Manager/Staff relations Brian – “all good” Vern – GORDON BROWN would “scare the daylights out of you.”

27.00 Gordon Brown. Barbara – “he was a bully … if I saw him coming I’d try to hide.” Brian – “Gordon Brown was General Co-op Manager.” Vern - PDC had its own manager. Lists all Co-op stores – butcheries, groceries etc. and Majestic Hotel. Royden – you looked busy if you saw him coming. All staff got on with PDC manager. 30.00 Management structure of PDC. “Pyramid.” Management team included Personnel, Sales and Advertising Managers. Occupied mezzanine floor. Below this were Managers of large departments, then Buyers of other departments. Brian – there was also a Floor Manager. Details of this job. Involved hands on management ranging over all departments, also back-up re SHOPLIFTERS.

33.50 Dealing with SHOPLIFTERS was part of staff training. Procedures for dealing with shoplifters. Shoplifting stories.

42.55 PDC culture. Had to write dockets for shareholders even for small ticket items. Had to arrive on the job 5 minutes before time so as to be at one’s station on time.

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Audio
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2019Au_2019-42_026558_01
Title
Oral Interview - Past Employees of the PDC Department Store, part 1
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Palmerston North
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April 13, 2018

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Past Employees of PDC Department Store
Interview – 13 April 2018

Interviewees: Brian Yaxley, Royden Williams, Barbara Woodward, Vern Lumley, Alan Maw
Interviewer: Simon Johnson
Transcribed by: Leanne Hickman
Part 1

SJ: This is an interview between Simon Johnson and previous staff members of the PDC Department Store.
Brian: Brian Yaxley.
Royden: Royden Williams.
Barbara: Barbara Woodward.
Vern: Vern Lumley.
Alan: Alan Maw.
SJ: The date is the 13th of April 2018. It’s actually a Friday so let’s keep our fingers crossed about the recording equipment. The place the were are recording is the Wharite Room at the Palmerston North City Library. What I’ll do is I’ll just go through some general questions about working lives and you can just answer as you wish, just like an ordinary conversation. How old were you when you started to work, not necessarily at PDC, but the point at which you started working?
Brian: 15
Royden: PDC 16
Barbara: At PDC, I would have been about, early 30s.
SJ: Right, and what sort of work did you do before that Barbara?
Barbara: I was a dental nurse.
SJ: A dental nurse? So you were in the murder house?
Barbara: Yes. Very much so.
SJ: I remember all that.
Vern: I began working at 17 in the hardware business and went through a variety of things and finally finished up at the PDC.
SJ: Where was the hardware business that you were working in.
Vern: Well, the first one was
. In Taumaranui on the Main Trunk Line and at Briscoe E.W Mills in Wellington. Then I bought my own hardware business on the Raumati Beach. And later on joined – oh heck, Unilever And that brought me back to Palmerston North. And ultimately I was a manager of a business in Levin that got taken over by the Co-op.
SJ: So, that was how you ended up with the Co-op.
Vern: Yes, the business was a grocery business actually. The master at the time Gordon Brown seemed to like me so he made me the group staff training officer. That only lasted for a year until our PDC manager decided he wanted me for his PDC. So, I was there for the next 17 and a bit years.
SJ: And Alan, how about you?
Alan: I joined the PDC – I came out from England in 1973. And I was in my mid-30s when I joined the company PDC.
SJ: What kind of work had you been doing before you came to New Zealand?
Alan: I’d been a jack of all trades really. I did a lot of globe trotting and Merchant Navy and then I ended up at Marks and Spencers for a few years. That’s where I met my wife and I had to leave in those days – that was frowned upon. Although they were quite nice about it. However, I stayed in – was with them for a few years and then became warehouse manager of an overall distribution manufacturing company in Bristol.
SJ: And then you came to New Zealand. And did you come to PDC as soon as you came to New Zealand? Was that where you started?
Alan: Yes. In those days a lot of people were coming out here and we just had a house built for a few years and all the girls and young women having their babies and tea mornings and going for a meeting. Then one day Jenny came home and said: ‘Alan, Christine’s going to New Zealand, let’s go.’ It came out of the blue. And, because she had a very close family, and in actual fact I used to live here as a boy. I came, the first time I was here was in 1948.
SJ: With the Merchant Navy?
Alan: No, no I was a young boy then and my father, we lived in Auckland. But mum couldn’t – didn’t settle very well so we returned to the UK.
Brian: I actually didn’t start PDC until 1972. And I was in my early 30s and I was there for 16 years.
SJ: And what previous education had you had before you started working? You know, what level had you done at school?
Brian: I came from a big family and I was an asthmatic and didn’t start school until I was six and a half. So my high school education was 6 months. I left as soon as I was 15. Because you really had to help support the family.
Royden: Yeah, I had four years of high school. Left in December. Had absolutely no idea what I was going to do. Got desperate and a week before school was due to go back, I ended up at the PDC, which I thought would be a temporary job. But, 25 years later I was still there.
SJ: And Barbara, what about you. You obviously would have had to do training to afflict young children’s teeth.
Barbara: Yes. When I joined the PDC, which I was there for – 1970 I went there. I had three children, so for a start, I only worked part-time hours relieving lunch hours and things like that until they were older and then I became a full-time staff member. And I was there all those years.
SJ: Right. And what education did they require for you to be a dental nurse.
Barbara: Oh I had four years secondary education.
SJ: And then you went to learn how to drill things.
Barbara: I actually worked for a dentist, I wasn’t a school dental nurse.
SJ: Oh you weren’t. I’m being facetious for no good reason.
Barbara: It still was a murder house, don’t get me wrong.
SJ: Most people of a certain age remember the murder house.
Barbara: Well it still was.
SJ: And the drills had little belts that went round and drilled very slowly.
Vern: And the foot got slower as they got tireder.
Barbara: They had, in the dentist I worked for, I mean the school had, all New Zealand had the free dental treatment till everyone was 16 and more and longer if you were still in an educational situation. So, of course it was still the murder house.
SJ: It was something that developed after the First World War which is an area that I know a little bit about, because our soldiers had very poor teeth compared to the rest of the Empire’s soldiers. Now the main reason for that would have probably been minerals in the water. But it was seen as a great slight on the honour of our men and our strength and health and therefore the dental service was started, after that. Along with health camps interestingly for the same reason. How about you Alan, what education did you have before you left

Alan: Yeah just secondary school education, I left at 15.
there was an engineering factory there you could become an apprentice. And, anyhow the day came I got a job at this factory but I had to work for a year or so, and then you sign up to be an apprentice. But I couldn’t hack it in a factory. So, behind the building I used to work in Bristol was the docks, some of the ships used to tie up. And well – they did tie up. And so I took myself off to sea school for a while and then was in the Merchant Navy, well for nearly five years.
SJ: When – we’ll talk now about your introduction to PDC. Brian, when you – what was the job you applied for and what was – how did the interview go and what kind of questions were you asked.
Brian: It was a fairly short interview. They needed a couple of furniture salesmen and two or three of us applied for the job. Two of us got it. I know Des Cosgrove was the man who did the interview. They just wanted to know what work I’d done and I had worked in a grocer shop for quite a while and so I had a bit of customer relations. And really it was quite short. They called in the manager of the Furniture Department Trevor Henderson. He asked a couple of questions and both me and the other fellow were hired.
SJ: What year was that, can you remember?
Brian: ’72. I know because that’s the year I got married.
Royden: I have got no recollection of the interview or what I applied for. But I remember six of us started on the same day and we had probably a couple of hour induction course on how things operated. There were four girls and myself, and another young guy. He started in the Men’s Department and I ended up in the Boyswear. As I said earlier, it was just before school went back. Unfortunately in the Boyswear the last week is the busiest week if the year. And the last day is the busiest day of the year. I suspect I was pretty much a useless green horn. But they didn’t give me the heave ho.
SJ: Can you remember what year that would have been?
Royden: 1964.
SJ: ’64. Did they still have those systems with the – you put the account in a little cannister and it got

Royden: No that had gone several years before that.
SJ: I know they had them in Collinson and Cunninghame’s but I think Millar and Giorgi had one too.
Royden: The pipes were still in some sections I think.
SJ: Right, you started in Boyswear and you moved on from there?
Royden: No, I was the Boyswear Buyer for the next 25 years. Later on I inherited the men’s clothing, household textiles, men shoes, luggage.
SJ: And Barbara, can you remember your interview?
Barbara: I can. The gentleman beside me, Vern, interviewed me. And I can remember it very well. It was – might have been beginning of December, or it was coming up to Christmas. A very busy store and they wanted extra staff on in that busy time. So, I thought: ‘What a waste of time going, there was that many applicants.’ So I said to my neighbour who was minding my children when I went, I said: ‘That’s a waste of time.’ And then – so I just forgot about it. Although my interview was fine, I thought. But – and then Vern couldn’t get hold of me, or someone, when they rang, so he sent me a telegram to phone him. So, that’s how it was. So I worked there and then I became on this ‘staff relieving ..’ did you call it ‘staff relieving ..’ or ‘part-time’? I think permanent part-time I was.
SJ: And this was because you had a family of three children. So, initially this was your step back into the work force?
Barbara: I had had a few other – I did a stint with, when there was surveys for TVNZ and Air New Zealand, I did surveys for them and I had good references from them. I don’t think I took them in for Vern though. I’m more of a people person I suppose, he just worked it out for himself obviously.
SJ: So, when you were doing this part-time work, was it in different departments or just the one?
Barbara: Yes, that what I meant from the start. Mr Goodwin, who was the manager at the time, used to tell me not to play the music too loudly in the Music Department. I played all my favourite tunes in the hour I was there and he used to come out and say: ‘Shhhh.’ But, various departments I did.
SJ: So give me an idea of your progress from the part time to where you were when PDC closed.
Barbara: I was a Buyer at the time when it closed. So I came up through the ranks really, and when I worked full time. I did work with Royden too for a while and spent a - we had a lot of fun, it was a great firm to work for. And they really looked after their staff too.
SJ: We’ll talk about that in a little while because it’s quite important because I understand that PDC had a different philosophy in some ways to other stores and I’m quite interested to bring that out. So, when you say you became a Buyer, that was for which department?
Barbara: The Hosiery and Accessories, jewellery, it’s a big department. A lot of facets to it. Which was lovely, good fun.
SJ: And Vern when you started where did you start and what department

Vern: With the PDC?
SJ: Yeah with PDC. You know, what was your progress from there?
Vern: As I said, I was at first engaged by the Co-op itself as a staff trainer. But that only lasted a year and Les Goodwin the manager of PDC at the time had his eye on me for some reason and did some manipulation, so I finished up as a Personnel Manager for the PDC, which lasted for around 10 years or thereabouts and then I became the Sales Manager for the PDC. And obviously during the time that I was Personnel Manager, I selected only the best.
SJ: Now you say when you started you were a staff trainer, tell me what that involved. They employ as a staff trainer?
Vern: Well, at that time new staff needed to go through a progress of learning how to sell things, how to use the cash register, what the processes of the company were and I even taught them with toy money at that stage and a cash register. The company that they took over, they had never seen a company take on so many new members of the Co-op, because it cost $6 to be a member of the Co-op, and of course you saved up all your receipts and everything and half of Palmerston North paid its rates [with their annual dividend – SJ].
SJ: That was hard work.
Vern: Without question. But that was part of the family atmosphere that has been spoken about and that’s pretty much it I guess.
SJ: When you say the staff training that you did, was there anything that you felt that was peculiar to PDC as opposed to say any other department store. I mean were you involved in trying to inculcate a sort of a PDC ethic, if you like? I mean, apart from good customer service, but something that was specific to PDC.
Vern: I would think that the family atmosphere of the place was what made us very different to a lot of others – other big companies. And that was because of the nature of a co-operative. It was not there initially to make money, it was there to benefit its staff and to benefit its members.
SJ: Was this something that you talked to new staff members about, so they understood.
Vern: Yeah, but it wasn’t a big thing, it didn’t seem to us to be a big thing. It was just the way that the PDC operated.
SJ: But it wouldn’t have happened in say CM Ross or in Collinson and Cunninghames.
Vern: Well, differently I suppose. But it was a good place to work for, quite frankly it was, yes.
SJ: Well I can see, I mean people here worked there for quite some time and usually it helps to have a good employer to make you want to do that. I mean I worked in my job as the manager of the Feilding Library for 32 years because the Council was a good employer to work for. Plenty of people I knew around the place, didn’t do that.
Vern: I should say that they never ever paid anybody good wages.
SJ: Well, who does? Alan, how about your interview and your experiences around that.
Alan: My interview was in London. But my letters, I wrote to everybody I could think of in New Zealand – companies, but one of my letters got passed on to the PDC. I thought well I better watch these people and get the map out to see where Palmerston North was.
SJ: So how did that – you were going to come to New Zealand, you wrote letters looking for jobs.
Alan: Applying for jobs
SJ: Yes, but one of them was not the PDC?
Alan: Well, it was my letter – no I didn’t apply to the PDC, but somebody’s looking over us and got my letter and passed it on to the PDC and that’s – Mr Goodwin who replied.
SJ: A bit of serendipity really.
Alan: And then he’d been in touch, they were doing a lot of recruiting, and I had to go up to London to New Zealand House. And took the family up – my children and I was accepted and they’d obviously contacted Mr Goodwin to say, you know, he should be all right. So

SJ: So, in a sense you didn’t have a formal interview at all. When you went to New Zealand House, what was the connection there, between New Zealand House and PDC?
Alan: People were recruiting on behalf of New Zealand companies who were wanting staff.
SJ: So this was part of the period when they were looking for new immigrants to help the population.
Alan: This was in the ‘70s.
SJ: Well, I know my parents came here in ’61 and we were what they called in those days ‘£10 poms’. Were you given assisted immigration when you came out.
Alan: Yes we did.
SJ: You did, so yeah it was still going. And the job that you first had at PDC?
Alan: Was in the Hardware Department.
SJ: Hardware Department. What would that encompass mainly?
Alan: Oh the sales, just getting used to the department and the stock.
SJ: Did you have staff under you?
Alan: No, I was just an employee – a sales assistant. It was Bruce Ayres had the department at the time. I got experience in some other departments, Home Appliances and then a bit further down the track I was helping with Toys and Stationary.
SJ: So, was there was a sort of a progress from that point where you started through different departments or did you just move around during your whole period at PDC.
Alan: No, I got experience in the store first, Vern knows as much as I do about that. And, the vacancy came up for Buyer in the Hardware Department and I was approached if I would like the job and so I accepted. After, Bruce left another Buyer came in Peter Morgan and he has since – is no longer with us and I think I took over for Peter Morgan. But no, I loved it when I was in there.
SJ: Were you aware that you were given a sort of training period while you were there? Vern’s talked a little bit about this. I’ll just throw that over to everybody, what were your experiences of that training period when you’d just arrived on your first day and you were being shown the ropes and that sort of thing?
Brian: After you come in and shown around the shop a bit, then you were taken to a department and I can’t remember who I was assignment to, but the Furniture Department had about, probably about eight people in it at that time and one of them, I think Steve Mullinger was given the job of showing me what to do and John Overing the senior people and you’d spend a bit of time with each of them until you became comfortable that you had a bit of knowledge and then you had to go out and do your thing.
SJ: And were there any qualifications involved? I mean when you were working there, there wouldn’t have been – you wouldn’t have been working towards any kind of qualification. It might sound an odd question but these are the questions that we use for all working interviews. I mean, there wasn’t anything that you worked towards? Any kind of qualification?
Brian: No.
Royden: As paperwork no. But every one of us outside Vern, started off just as salespeople and everyone of us ended up the Buyer of the department. And unlike department store chains today, we virtually run our own shop. We bought the stock, sold it and you were paid basically on how your department actually worked. So that was the basic goal of probably

SJ: If you are looking at the - most of the shop staff, let say the assistants, roughly what age group would you be looking at. I mean not you, yourselves, but your awareness of the workplace around you. It was a big store, there were lots of departments. Were these mainly younger people or people of all ages.
Royden: All ages.
Barbara: From school leavers to people ready to retire.
SJ: Yeah, working on the shop floor basically.
Barbara: Yes. They were the ones that taught you another staff member would show you. A senior probably.
SJ: And were they mainly – was there an even balance of men and women at that level, or was there a

Vern: Slightly more women than men.
Brian: And Vern was the employment officer.
Vern: Pretty much, of course.
SJ: Did you find that perhaps you would be more biased with say, hardware, to employ men and with

Vern: Yes.
SJ: That’s how it used to work. Yeah.
Barbara: Although I worked in Sports Goods which was mostly men too.
SJ: How did the workers and managers get on, generally? From your observations – your own personal observations and perhaps experiences of others you observed.
Brian: There was quite a big executive really wasn’t there? Probably six or eight and it was just the odd one you’d see coming that you would think “hmm not sure about him, what’s he up to?’ It wasn’t Vern by the way. But really after a while when you got to know people, I found them all good.
SJ: And that was everyone’s experience – yep.
Vern: The possible exception of Gordon Brown himself who seemed to scare the daylights out of everybody. At heart he was a real good bugger and he was behind this philosophy.
SJ: Tell me a bit about Gordon, Vern. Because he was such an important person in the setting up of the Co-op.
Barbara: He was a bully.
Vern: Oh gosh yes
he was.
Barbara: I didn’t like him a bit because he would come in the doors off Fitzherbert Avenue and go up to his office but always came over when I was there and you’d have to say ‘Good morning Mr Brown.’ Or ‘Good afternoon Mr Brown’ or ‘Good evening Mr Brown’ and if you saw him coming I tried to hide so I didn’t have to. And I hid down behind the cabinet one day and I was busy and he came over and leant over the counter so I could see him, I could stand up and speak to him, and that’s why I think he was a bully.
SJ: How did the rest of you find him, when you encountered him?
Brian: I was only there for a short time before he moved on and Arthur Bartlett took over. He was the general Co-op manager wasn’t he not just the shop.
Vern: Correct, absolutely. The total group. At the time, as you probably well know there was 26-27 groceries and 17 butcheries and all sorts of other businesses, including, most importantly, the Majestic Hotel.
SJ: Oh, heavens above. Right. Well, how did the rest of you find Mr Brown, when you encountered him.
Royden: Very much the same. I’m surprised he knew any staff worked there at all. But if you saw him coming you made sure you were busy. Yeah the duster coming out.
SJ: Did he know all his staff, including the people on the shop floor.
Royden: I don’t think he knew their names, he knew you worked there.
Barbara: Only those he saw as he came and went on his regular route to his office.
Vern: After all, PDC itself had its own manager, as each of the divisions did and they were the ones that were really responsible for the way that the outfit worked.
SJ: So who – the PDC manager, rather than Gordon Brown, who as you said was the manager of the overall Co-op group, the PDC manager, how did you find him.
Barbara: That would be Les Goodwin.
Vern: Les Goodwin, correct.
SJ: Did he interact with you a great deal? I mean the people who worked on the shop floor?
Roydon: Yes, the structure of the place was such that Les Goodwin who was the store manager, was at the top and then just the basic pyramid down. But the information flow went from the top to the bottom.
SJ: So just to get an idea of the hierarchy, you’ve got the PDC manager, and then under him presumably you’ve got the department, the people who were in charge of the departments. Am I correct there?
Vern: Nearly.
Barbara: There was an assistant manager.
Vern: Nearly because on the mezzanine floor was the management team of the PDC. That involved the assistant manager, personnel manager, whoever was sales manager at the time and we also on the same floor, and a member of the executive team was the advertising manager.
SJ: Very important.
Barbara: Oh yeah, is he still all right.
Vern: Don’t know. I saw him briefly at one stage and he didn’t seem to be walking too good.
. And then of course underneath that you had the bigger departments who had a manager and a slightly lesser departments that had Buyers. The manager of course, was a Buyer too, it’s just a small snooty name.
SJ: What were the bigger departments, Vern?
Vern: Furniture and Home Appliance. Yes, those two.
Brian: There was one other person too, the floor manager. I ended up being floor manager.
SJ: What did that involve Brian?
Brian: You had to go around each department first thing in the morning, try and be pleasant and make sure they were fully staffed and that their cash had been picked up – their change had been picked up from upstairs and then you were just there for any problems and try to sort out if one department was too busy, you had to try and move staff to help them out or sometimes even jump in yourself. And it was really just keeping everything ticking over and at night, you had to make sure all the money bags went upstairs, that no one had run off with one and of course once the bags were – the tills was empty and put in the bags, the bag was locked.
SJ: So during the day once you got everything set up and you knew that all the departments had adequate staffing were you just floating around keeping an eye on things.
Brian: Basically, but there were always a few little bits that you had to do in the office.
SJ: So it was really a hands-on position in a way, so that if things weren’t working well or there was a customer who was having a few problems, you were right there to take the pressure off the individual assistant who was dealing with that problem. Would that be correct?
Brian: That’s right, if they called you. The other thing was, most days there were a lot of cheques around and it was the floor manager’s responsibility to make sure that the signatures signed was the same as some identification they had. And there were a few things like that.
Vern: Plus keeping an eye out for shoplifters.
Brian: Oh yes.
SJ: That was what I was thinking about because I know there was an expression used in the late 19th century of a sort of a semi senior manager in a big shop, being the floor walker. And I wondered whether what you were describing there Brian was a similar kind of role to that.
Brian: It was, it was.
SJ: Because the floor walker’s job in somewhere like Selfridges or whatever, was to see if somebody was shoving the silk scarf down their blouse or whatever the case may be.
Barbara: Oh that used to happen.
SJ: Well that’s an interesting point lets raise that. Was that something that was an ever present problem at PDC?
Royden: A lot of the staff training was involved in anti-shoplifting. How to deal with the problem.
SJ: Were some departments more at risk, than others.
Barbara: Oh the one that I was Buyer for was. It had so many facets to it, you know, little sections to it. It was really quite difficult but the girls and the staff had a really good trained eye. I guess we lost a bit.
Brian: Most of the staff, if there was a problem would call one of the management. I was probably the first or Don Clark when he was on, we were the first to go to it and you’ll probably ask later, but there were quite a few tricky little situations.
SJ: How did somebody in a department call for say you to come and lend a hand or have a look if they thought something was being stolen? What was the communication method? You didn’t just give a great yell. Did you have a button or something?
Vern: Maintenance man needed in D17.
Brian: Although we had those little ..
Vern: That’s right, paging things.
Brian: So they would ring the girls in the office who would then page us.
SJ: So what was this little device, Brian, tell me about it.
Brian: Well it was very similar to a mobile phone, but much smaller and all it would do, I think you pressed a button and, to let them know you had answered it and I was called ‘Mr Yaxley, you are required in whatever department.’
SJ: Was this around even in the early days Royden, or not? Sounds high tech to me.
Royden: Oh I’m sure they did. No that wasn’t around in the early days. We basically just apprehended the offender.
Vern: Only when they’d left the shop.
Alan: In those days, we didn’t have as much blister packaging, like we have now days, everything is in a packet, even the screws and tap washers these days. But then we had them all in containers on the counters so people could come and pick out items that they wanted. That was quite open.
SJ: I was imagining there would be some products that would lend themselves more to theft. I mean some small items of clothing I guess. Nails and hardware and screws.
Barbara: Hosiery and belts was one thing. One particular lady had another belt underneath her own. But the ticket was on the floor, torn off on the floor. One of the girls saw it and so, that ended up with

Brian: I was involved in that one, and she lived down the road from us and I said to her: ‘You’ve got two belts on.’ And she said: ‘I always wear two belts.’ This was one on top of the other. ‘I always wear two belts.’ Anyway got the girls up – probably Barbara and identified it.
Barbara: Yes it was $28.75.
SJ: That’s good money at that stage.
Barbara: I mean that’s quite a loss really and if you add them all up to various ones. That was only one we knew of! I mean what about times that people had done similar things.
Brian: One of the tricky ones, it was a necklace that had been ’03?
Barbara: Yes could have been. Oh was that before when Beryl Warrington had a bric-a-brac.
Brian: It could have been, I can’t remember but one young girl came running up and saw me and I had to go, and she said: ‘That lady there has just stolen a necklace,’ and she was probably about 75. I was like ‘no, she can’t have.’ Anyway I followed her around and she was acting a bit suspicious so in the end I took her to my office. And I said: ‘One of the girls
’ I know where it was, it was up the top of the escalator and it was on a mannequin and she took it off the mannequin.
Barbara: That’s right. That what it was.
Brian: I said: ‘One of the girls thought that they saw you take a necklace off the mannequin and put it in your purse.’ ‘Oh I would never do that.’ I said: ‘I’m sure you wouldn’t, but if you would just show me your purse, then I can go and tell them they made a mistake.’ So she showed me her purse and she turned it around and showed me what was supposed to be the other side and I nearly fell for it. Then I thought hang on, that’s the same side. And the first one was empty, the second side, when I got her to open both together, had the necklace in it. And what had ended up, her husband was sick and she had nothing better to do than try shoplifting. She was just a kleptomaniac.
Royden: I can remember at one occasion, I was the Buyer of the menswear and an office fella had come in to buy a pair of trousers one lunch time. And come out of the fitting room to say they were a bit tight, can I have a size bigger. Anyway he came over to me and the rack where we had the trousers. He went back to the fitting room and said: ‘Who’s taken my trousers?’ Someone had gone in flogged his trousers

Barbara: His ones?
Royden: His own trousers, his wallet. We had to lend him a pair of trousers so he could go back to work.
Brian: You might remember this one Vern because I’m sure you were involved. A guy had taken a leather jacket and started to do a runner, and got someone in front of him. So he ran into the menswear and was hiding behind the menswear. Luckily there were three or four of us and I thought: ‘this is going to be easy, this guy is going to come out like a lamb’. He came out like a lion. He had the leather jacket on him, Colin tried to grab him and I’m pretty sure it was you. And there was me and eventually we managed to get him onto the floor. And he was spitting. He said: ‘I’m looking at you, and you, and you and I will be back.’ And they took him to the cop shop and the police came and took him to the cop shop and he smashed through the window and escaped. ‘Oh my god.’ But anyway he didn’t come back.
Vern: Oh yes there’s a whole list in the back of your mind of those.
Brian: One of the worst one was actually in the grocery department and the guy from the grocery department asked me to go along. And there was a couple with a baby and a pram. And I said: ‘they wouldn’t take anything.’ He said: ‘they’ve got it under the mattress.’ And so I had to take them back and he was right. They had the best cuts of meat all stuck under the mattress. And it turned out it wasn’t their baby, they had just borrowed it for the day. They weren’t married and they’d just borrowed the baby off someone went round and were stealing from the grocery department. So, there was terrible people.
Vern: One night I was called, I was part of a team of about three of us. I can’t remember Brian if you were involved in this. But the ladies underwear, there had been a display and you could actually sneak up behind this display and visually see what was going on around the place and we had strong suspicions – the ladies in the department – had strong suspicions about the cleaning staff at night time. Stayed up there for a couple of hours and then this lady came in and was cleaning away behind the
and I think she eventually managed to get on about 16 or 17 pairs of underpants. My god! Incredible.
SJ: Can you think of – apart from the logical ones of customer service, any particular rules around working in PDC which you all remember. Perhaps the kinds of rules relating to what we would now call PDC culture in other words
yep
Barbara: I’ve got one. We all had, well most people had – I was going to say a credit card – a PDC credit card. And sometimes small items, they’d get it out and you would have to write out this docket and everything and have to put it on a very small item and it was a real bore having to do that. Their policy was, and that was drummed into the staff – that ok, so its boring to write out a docket for five shillings or whatever at the time, or maybe $10 a bit later, that then that they may go around into Home Appliance or into Furnishing and then buy a nice bedroom suite or a fridge or something. Go upstairs and buy a nice lot of clothing or something. So, we were not to moan about having to do a docket for a very small amount. And that was very important because that was one thing that we were told.
SJ: That obviously relates to PDC as a co-operative, this is something

Barbara: No this was just the store. Store purchasing. Nothing to do with the Co-op
SJ: It was all store purchasing. Nothing to do with the Co-op. Has anyone else got any sort of thoughts on that apart from the

Brian: You had to be there five minutes before you were supposed to. And that was another of my job and I think Vern’s at some stage. And we had to stand on the door and sort of tick people off mentally as they came in and stick around for another five minutes and if anyone was late, you had to read them the riot act. Robin Mudgeway was always late.
Vern: Yes, and that day and age, you did not come to your department at starting time and then start taking off your coat and so on and so forth. You had to be at your department fully ready to go and fair enough. But it was all done with – it wasn’t done in a nasty way I don’t think.
SJ: So Brian, you say when people came in, so they came in in
?
Brian: Through the inwards goods, which came into the furnishing department.
SJ: So there was one door that the staff came through, so you could be like the guy on the sheep race, checking the ewes as they go through.
Brian: In fact there was two doors weren’t there.
Vern: Yeah you do the back one and I’d do the front one.
Brian: Yeah, that’s right.
Barbara: Most of them came in the back because of parking.
Brian: Carparking yeah.
SJ: I’m just going to change folders on this now, so we’ll just

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