Ninety years ago in May Nicholas and Wadih Dan created a family business in Taree which is still proudly looking after the clothing needs of local women.
The Lebanese brothers (their surname was originally Doumany, but they changed it on their arrival to Australia) set up shop as Dan Bros in Manning Street, selling clothes for men, women and children, as well as haberdashery and manchester.
"It was a big old, double sided shop. You had men's on one side, ladies the other side," current owner George Dan said.
Since those days the business has had a few name changes, from Dan Bros to Nicholas Dan, to Dan's Frock Salon and lastly to Dan's Ladies Wear. But it has only ever moved a few metres from where it is now.
In 1963 the Dans bought the property the shop was in and moved into the shop on the corner of Manning Arcade, and specialised in women's clothing and haberdashery only.
Nicholas and his wife Angele, who he married in 1941, had five children - Victoria, Gabriel, Janette, Evelyn and George, with Angele contributing clothes to the shop stock.
"My mum actually made clothes for the business, because at the time we were selling lots of materials and through the times of the war, like even the late 40s with all the skirts and little cotton dresses, because she was a professional dressmaker," George said.
When his father passed away in 1985, George joined his mother in taking care of the business. They worked together until Angele passed away in 2002, and since then George has been the sole proprietor of the business, his siblings all living out of the area.
George is justifiably proud of the family business, and has strong ties to it.
"It's a big part of my life," he said. "It means a lot to me because it's the foundation of my my father and his brother starting in Taree in 1932, and then my mum being part of the business. So it's been a very big family concern and it's been just a major thing in the family."
However, he recognises that when he decides to stop work, that will be the end of the Dan's Ladies Wear. But he has no plans to retire just yet.
"You know, people have said to me, 'isn't it time for retirement?' and I have said, it's not in our kind of mindset," George said.
We've got even some who are great grandchildren of the original people that came when my Dad started the business.- George Dan
"The kind of families that we come from, we try to stick with it as long as we can, like right to the end. Even with my parents there was no talk of retirement. My dad was 78 and my mum was 81 (when they no longer worked). Not that I'm going to stay there to that age.
"But I think they were doing it as offering the community a service, and and people have respected them in that regard. (The business) has relied on that kind of close knit personal service that we've tried to offer for many years."
While there has been a decline in business over the last five to 10 years, due to chain stores in undercover shopping centres, George says, the business still has a loyal clientele, some coming from generations of family shopping at the store
"We've got even some who are great grandchildren of the original people that came when my Dad started the business," George said.
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