Just 57cents for eggs, 9cents for a can of soft-drink, and 33cents for a jar of coffee! These eclectic arrangements of groceries were most likely taken for an advertising catalogue or grocery store 'specials' boards. Between the 1960s and 1970s products sold and advertised by manufacturers were most likely to be personal care item, food, drink, household goods, and appliances.
For this photograph the plastic wrap covering the ham has been sliced at the front of the meat to capture its moist and fresh appearance and to avoid reflection. The label was affixed directly to the ham so that both the brand and its freshness are visible. At the beginning of the 1960s, clear cellophane food wraps were replaced by synthetic PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Supermarkets preferred PVC because of its superior capacity to preserve a fresh appearance.
'Carnation your coffee'
Domestic freezers and microwaves dramatically changed the way Australians cooked and shopped. Refrigerator sales increased after World War II and by 1964, it was estimated that 94% of Australian households owned a refrigerator. Households without refrigerators relied on iceboxes or ice-chests to keep perishable foods fresh. Microwave oven adoption was slower. Around half of Australian households were equipped with microwaves by 1989.
Freshly frozen peas
Frozen food consumption accelerated with household freezers. Peas were an instant success and most frozen goods were advertised as "fresh". These products offered convenience, reducing both time spent in the kitchen and the frequency of grocery shopping trips. Peters, pictured here, produced frozen vegetables and poultry in addition to dairy products.
Birdseye baby carrots, frozen broccoli, potato gems, crinkle cut chips, Sara Lee pies, or a Peters ice cream cake. These were some of the frozen foods available in the freezer isle at Woolworths in the 1970s. The onslaught of convenience foods shifted much cooking and food preparation from the home kitchen to the factory. Maximum convenience was offered in single serve 'ready meals' like the Chef Pak dinners pictured. They were available in 'spaghetti and meat sauce' or 'chop suey'.
Freecorns Food Store
Amidst the Great Depression in 1932, David Freecorn opened his first 'Freecorns' grocery outlet in Adelaide Street, Fremantle. By 1948, the chain had grown to nine stores. Freecorns operated in Western Australia for over forty years until the business was sold in 1977 and the Freecorns brand disappeared.
Tom the Cheap - est. 1946
Thomas E. Wardle is known to have 'revolutionised' supermarket trading by offering a 'no-frills' self-service shopping experience at his 'Tom the Cheap' super-markets. He used deferred pay from the war to set up his first grocery store on Fitzgerald Street in North Perth in 1946 and attracted customers with extremely low prices. He applied a 10% goods markup instead of the 25% markup used by competitors. By 1965, Wardle had expanded the business with 90 stores in Western Australia, including the Fremantle shop pictured here. There were an addition 24 stores in South Australia, 14 in Melbourne, and 2 in Sydney.
It was called 'self-service' because customers retrieved items from the shelves themselves rather than over a counter with the help of shop assistants.
We've made big changes!
-Tom the Cheap in store signage, 1976
One of Tom the Cheap's savings came from discriminatory employment tactics. The business employed married women as store managers because of a perception that they would be less interested in promotion, and a belief that they were more more equipped to supervise the shop assistants (young women) who were the cheapest labour of all.
-1980s Coles New World television advertisement
At the end of the advertisement, a customer is pictured handing over cash including a $2 note. The Australian $2 note was introduced with the change from the Australian pound to the Australian dollar and the decimalisation of currency. The note was superseded by the $2 coin in 1988.
Check out all the dollar dazzlers at your Coles New World
Photographs - State Library of Western Australia Pictorial Collection