Recorded: April 22nd, 2018.
Interviewer: Simon Johnson
Abstract: Simon Johnson.
Interview with Norma Angus, fabrics Buyer for the PDC, Part 2 of 3
Who in other shops around town was in favour of Saturday trading? “I didn’t know of anyone.”
Wholesalers would often give a Buyer exclusive rights to a fabric and not sell it to your direct opponents as well. Same went for other stores. If you had laid out money for a line of fabric you wouldn’t expect to see the same stuff in another store. Number of fabric shops diminished over time. Readymade garments became cheap and plentiful. PDC once stocked baby gown fabric because many people made their own.
Effects of removal of import licenses and advent of free trade on NZ suppliers:
There was a local clothing manufacturer - ERIN RYDER [RIDER?] – made budget frocks. Couldn’t compete. Also an “alpine type clothing” supplier which closed. Norma moved to Australia at about this time .
The working day:
Was always buying for spring in the hottest months and vice versa. Fabric salespeople came to PDC, whereas in Fashion Dept. the Buyer would go to look at samples in seller’s motel. Apart from this there was book work and serving customers. Much of day spent “on the [shop] floor.” After a buying trip to Auckland would be a “mountain of paperwork.” Also regular visits to Inward Goods to sign off invoices for payment.
Racial mix of staff: Can’t remember any non-European staff.
Dress codes: Required to wear navy and white. Buyers allowed more leeway. Norma often wore something she’d made. Whenever she worked in the Fashion dept. LES GOODWIN forbade home-made clothes. Norma didn’t always follow this ruling “He wouldn’t have picked them.”
We used to have socials in Waldings Tearooms. Everything provided. Once put on a skit of _Are you being Served? _[British TV comedy series set in a department store]. Social Club also ran parties for staff who were leaving. Norma chose not to select particular staff members to attend her farewell as was usual but requested a morning tea that all staff could attend. Mentions two staff rooms – smoking & non-smoking. Lunch & tea times – Dominion [newspaper]crossword. Were some staff “frictions,” mainly personal rather than political.
Annual leave. Two weeks per year. Initially arranged within departments so all bases covered. Co-op owned a holiday home in Taupo, “a homely, slightly shabby place” with a hot pool and “magnificent view of the mountain.” Staff went in a ballot. “You had it for a week.” When PDC began to falter the holiday home was the first to be sold. Norma wishes she and other staff had formed a syndicate and bought it.
Collapse of PDC:
Happened after Norma left but she had “misgivings” beforehand. When she returned to PN from Australia in November 1989 the shop was selling up – “selling everything.” Couldn’t bring herself to go into shop and see good friends hanging in there to the last.
PDC PLAZA – “When the Plaza opened people thought that they were shopping in PDC but in actual fact they weren’t. They [downstairs shops in Plaza] were rented out to the opposition.” So, PDC’s departments – say, Fashion, Shoes, etc. – which were on the 1stt floor suffered.
Co-op Bank – run from the share office. Norma used it to save to help son to train as a CHIROPRACTOR in USA.
Norma had some influence over appointment of staff in her dept. Outlines her approach to this. Also, looking for people who would be compliant with the “rules management expected of staff.”
PDC culture: Customers loyal because they were rewarded with an annual dividend.
PDC PLAZA – Norma attended buying trips with LES GOODWIN during the time when Plaza being built. Norma feels that he’d told the story re the need for Plaza concept so often that he believed it absolutely. He left for Australia before the end and COLIN DYER took over.
Was a “Pirate Day” theme for one sale. PDC had “A wonderful Display Department.”
Norma’s predecessor GRAHAM GOODING had dressed his own windows. Had experience from a previous fabric shop. PDC’s display dept. was in an old building adjacent to PDC car park between PDC building and the fabric shop where Norma worked. Were about five display staff. Displays Manager was a TAE KWON DO exponent. “I got the job of making his uniforms.” There was also an Advertising Manager “up on the executive floor. You took your copy up to him.”