G. W. Coles shop in Wilmot
Home of the original G. W. Coles shop
Located 141 km from Launceston via Devonport and
45 km from Devonport, Wilmot is now a tiny
township servicing the surrounding rural area
and the occasional tourist who stops off on
their way to Cradle Mountain.
The town's one claim to fame is that the
first G.W. Coles shop (which subsequently became
an important chain throughout Australia) was
established in Wilmot. A brochure on the history
of the shop explains: 'Coles - A link with
Tasmania. The personal link which the Coles
family has long enjoyed with Tasmania began in
the early years of the century when Mr George
Coles, father and founder of G. J. Coles Ltd,
left Victoria to buy and operate a general store
in the small country town of Wilmot. It was at
Wilmot that the one-time chairman and managing
director of the company, Norman C. Coles,
received his primary education at the time when
his older brother A. W. , later Sir Arthur, was
assisting his father. The retailing chain which
was destined to become Australia's biggest
actually had its modest beginnings in the
Melbourne suburb of Collingwood when Mr G. J.
Coles, Sir George, and his brother Jim, opened
their tiny 3d, 6d and 1/- store in 1914.
'The Coles store at Wilmot was purchased by
the original George Coles because of its
bankruptcy. Needless to say Coles had trouble
raising funds to purchase what appeared to be an
unsuccessful business. Once he did his sons came
back from World War I with its cheap goods.
Afterwards he moved to Melbourne where he set up
a chain based on the ideas of Woolworths. In its
heyday Coles store in Wilmot actually had about
15 employees and three trucks were used to take
supplies to the surrounding areas.'