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Holdfast Bay Chamber Of Commerce - Celebrating 60 years of Business Growth and Community Service. 1949 - 2009
On August 17, 1949 a group of local businessmen met to create a Chamber Of Commerce with objectives to protect and advance the professional, manufacturing and commercial interests of the District of Glenelg. The first President of the fledgling Chamber was local jeweller and tobacconist Alan Oliver with F.A.Wenzel and T.H.Easton(Vice-Presidents), T.G.Sale (Secretary) and J.Cameron (Treasurer). Messrs.R.G. Drew, G.Ford, C.A.M. Reid, H.Date,C.Dowdy,P.Nunn, J.Morgan, E.Allen and R.Hart constituted the committee.
Within this group was the motivating force that led to the dramatic development of Jetty Road as the leading shopping precinct outside of Adelaide in the 1950's and early 1960's. Indeed, the concept of supermarkets in South Australia was spearheaded in Glenelg as innovative traders sought new ways for "People to Serve People".
The Glenelg Chamber Of Commerce seized the opportunity to promote local prosperity and expanded its horizons to beckon the interests of commercial and light industrial businesses in the district.
Local cake shop proprietor Arthur Wenzel became President and he was succeeded by fruit merchant Ron Drew.
In 1951 brothers Alan and Alf Smedley took over The Guardian Newspaper, printing weekly out of Hastings Street. Anything of local interest made it into the newspaper as it developed a reputation of fearlessly taking on civic leaders, politicians and anybody else who, in the view of local businesspeople, sought to impede the growth and popularity in Glenelg. The Chamber Of Commerce suddenly found it had a public mouthpiece in The Guardian as the Smedley brothers' printing press rolled out the weekly affairs of the Glenelg District.
Allan Smedley, who later became Mayor Of Glenelg (1977-79) was an active member of the Glenelg Chamber Of Commerce. He vividly recalls the energy of the organisation and some of its more unusual meetings.
"I remember some meetings at Ron Drew's shop in Moseley Square and members of the Chamber would sit on fruit boxes", Alan said. "It made no difference to the agenda of the day."
There were many triumphs for the Chamber, including the salvation of the Glenelg Christmas Pageant, in 1958, a meeting of the Chamber decided to discontinue the pageant, claiming that too many people were in the street watching it and not in their shops. As a result of this decision, the President Alan Smedley called a meeting of those members who wanted the pageant to continue.
Within 24 hours another meeting was held and all arrangements were completed with The Guardian providing finance for the pageant. It was also decided to invite the Jaycees (Glenelg Junior Chamber Of Commerce) to join the committee taking on the marshalling of the parade.
The Chamber of Commerce highlighted the skills and diversity of businesses in the area with the launch of the Glenelg and Districts industry Exhibition, which in 1959 attracted 17,000 people to a five day display in Raven's Crash Repair Shop (which is now the car park of The Grand Hotel).
One of the Chamber's most publicised campaigns was the push to keep parking meters out of Glenelg.
Apart from carrying out its functions as a Chamber Of Commerce, considerable work went in charitable directions, with major fund raising efforts for the establishment of the Glenelg District Community Hospital. The Chamber also raised large sums of money for Legacy and the District and Bush Nursing Society. It organised coloured lighting along Jetty Road and worked extensively with the Glenelg Council to receive and entertain visiting dignitaries.
By the early 1970's there was recognition that, apart from being a major shopping and commercial precinct, Glenelg was also growing in popularity as a tourism destination with major growth in motels and holiday units. With the co-operation of the Glenelg Council, a meeting was held on July 29, 1971 to establish the Glenelg Retail and Tourist Association (GRATA) as a successor organisation to the Glenelg Chamber Of Commerce. The President of the Chamber, Max Thomas, was duly elected as the first President of GRATA, a position he held for many years.
In the early 1990's , a group of local businesspeople saw a need to elevate the business profile of the greater Glenelg area and this led to the reformation of the Chamber Of Commerce with prominent identity Melos Sulicich serving as President. Following Melos into the Presidency were Bill Gilligan and George Nowak. In 1995, Melos Sulicich again took the helm before stepping down three years later.
During the 1990's an organisation known as the Jetty Road Glenelg Main Street Board was also launched to market the Jetty Road Precinct.
On March 10, 1999 , the former Glenelg Chamber Of Commerce was relaunched as the Holdfast Bay Chamber Of Commerce to reflect the merger between the former Cities of Glenelg and Brighton and to incorporate a much greater geographic area containing about 1250 businesses.
The inaugural President of the Holdfast Bay Chamber Of commerce Robert Milton, said the initiative presented the opportunity to, attract new members, establish an organisation representing businesses of greater diversity and create a greater range of member benefits, services and activities.
The Chamber Of Commerce is deeply rooted in the history of our coastal suburbs, and over the past 53 years it has constantly adapted to change. However, one thing has remained constant…the energy and vision of the members who strive to promote the special qualities of Holdfast Bay in the best interest of the community.