The Flinders General Store has been providing goods for the people of Flinders and acting as a community hub for nearly 150 years. From the early days as a fishing settlement through to the boom years of the Telegraph Station in the late nineteenth century and the beginnings of Flinders’ popularity as a holiday spot in the early twentieth century.
The first land sales were in 1864, with the commercial strip along Cook St laid out in the second land sales of 1866. The Store site was purchased by the Brents and the General Store was established that same year.
Over the years the Store has passed from family to family, in many cases the business has been passed down through several generations. Owners such as Hooky Simmonds (1904-1922), Alf Murray (1922-1959) and Frank and Olive Commons (1959-1987) became community institutions. Hooky Simmonds used to hand out dates and sweets to kids who called in on their way home from school and gave his regular customers Christmas gifts which they could usually choose for themselves, Alf Murray was said to have carried many of the local fisherman through the winter by allowing them to pay their accounts only when the summer fishing picked up, and Frank and Olive Commons were so integral to the Flinders community that the Store was an absolute village hub (known as ‘The House of Commons’) and Frank was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the Community. The fire brigade siren was inside the back door of the shop and people made their doctors appointments at the Store.
While many things change, some things don’t. Kids still call in on their way home from school everyday, we still have accounts and sell bait to fishermen, and a member of the Commons family still works with us at the Store.
Many locals fondly remembers the shop as a dark and rambling labyrinth of shelves piled high with everything you could ever imagine. Whilst no longer dark and rambling, we still do our best to stock a little bit of everything, in true general store fashion. In the modern era general stores around Australia are rapidly vanishing, but the Flinders General Store is very proud to be keeping the tradition alive.
(Information and photographs from ‘The Old General Store: A history of the general stores and post offices on the Frankston and Flinders Road, Western Port’ by Bruce Bennett)