Located at the junction of Bridge, Main and Victoria Streets in Ballarat, Stone’s Drapery Store was in operation from 1860 until 1966. Also known as Stone’s Style Store, the shop was popularly referred to as simply “Stone’s.”
The business was founded by Jacob Bernstein, an East Prussian who was living in England, until he immigrated to Australia in 1853 with his friend Isidore Solomon. In 1856, they abandoned their attempts at gold prospecting to establish a men’s clothing store in Main Road. When their partnership dissolved in 1860, Jacob launched a new shop on the corner of Main Road.
Jacob married Isidore’s sister Julia at the Ballarat Synagogue in 1863, and they had 7 children together. Their youngest daughter, Hannah, married Bernard Stone in 1898, and they operated a general store in Broken Hill, New South Wales. When they returned to Ballarat to assume management of the Bernstein’s business, Hannah established the “Original Baby Shop,” and Bernard operated a tobacconist store next door.
After Bernard’s death in 1935, Hannah retired and their children Marcus and Jessica took over. During the years of World War II (1939-1945), Jessica managed the shop while Marcus was on active military service.
By the 1930s, the clothing range included men’s, women’s and children’s wear, but their specialty was women’s formal and bridal wear. Jessica played an important role in the selection, promotion and sale of the garments chosen to retail.