New Zealand’s First Department Store Opened – 1854

In 1920, New Zealand’s first department store – that had been in the ownership of the Ballantyne family since 1872 – was formed into a company named J.Ballantyne and Co.

It was 1854 when Esther Clarkson, her husband David and sister-in-law Elizabeth arrived in Christchurch. They settled in a small cottage on Cashel Street and in one of the front rooms, Esther opened a small milliner shop – a trade that Esther knew very well. The business became known as ‘The Dunstable House’, named after Esther’s hometown back in England.

The first advertisement for the business – then known as T. Atkinson & Co due to the short involvement of Esther’s Clarkson cousin – appeared in The Lyttelton Times on 23 September 1856.

But it was 1872 when the name Ballantyne entered the story.

Ballantynes was also the first shop in Christchurch to use electricity.

For a more in depth look at Ballantynes, check out the following link:

*image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library – Exterior view, entrance, Ballantyne’s department store, Christchurch. Head, Samuel Heath, d 1948 :Negatives. Ref: 1/1-011098-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

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