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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

Aitken & Roberts, Domestic and Furnishing — Ironmongers

Aitken & Roberts, Domestic and Furnishing

The premises of this firm are slightly west of the centre of traffic; i.e., 225, Cashel-street West, but once seen, the visitor is not likely to forget its varied and useful stock of ironmongery of every description.

Messrs. Aitken & Roberts have been connected with the ironmongery business in New Zealand for the past twenty-three years, and therefore have, we may almost say, a perfect knowledge of the requirements and class of goods most suitable for all colonists; and their aim is, apparently, to introduce and offer to their numerous customers every suitable and useful novelty almost before its existence is known in the Old Country.

page 218

It is now some six years since Messrs. Aitken & Roberts opened their present premises in Cashel-street West; formerly it was a large cabinet-maker's shop, but in 1879 the present suitable and well stocked shop was opened specially for retail business.

Visitors as well as customers are always welcomed, and an inspection of the stock reveals how carefully and judiciously the goods have been imported. So far as we could see and judge, there were no bad or useless goods in store, and the thrifty housekeeper and colonist is able to make a selection of domestic and furnishing ironmongery at prices that should please and satisfy the most economical and fastidious buyer.

Messrs. Aitken & Roberts do not send out travellers, nor do they advertise largely, which surprises us. Every new customer is considered an advertising medium, as their large and well-assorted stock commends itself to all purchasers. The stock is replenished and kept well supplied by direct shipments from the English, Continental, and American markets; in fact, every steamer and sailing vessel for this port carries goods for the firm, which accounts for the articles in store always being new and of modern design. The American goods and novelties are of especial interest and importance, the practical and useful evidently being preferred, although there are others suitable for ornaments and presents, as well as every day use.

At the time of our visit they were opening some splendid samples of American fretwork wood, consisting of walnut, oak, holly, maple, and cherry, all cut into suitable lengths and prepared for the amateur artificer: we also noticed, what was more to our liking, viz., several handsome E.P. dram flasks, our only regret being our inability to sample even one of them, for though the firm is licensed to sell guns, ammunition, and kerosene oil, the "drap o' whisky" can't be sold here, and, consequently, the flasks were all "full of nothing," as the Irishman says.

The front shop is fitted up and expressly arranged for the large and growing retail business, the windows and show cases being made air tight; stands, shelves, and ceiling all being utilised to indicate the different assortments of platedware, lampware, cutlery, brushware, tinware, brassfoundry, builders' and carpenters' requisites, &c., and to attempt to enumerate any of the many striking articles which impressed us would be tedious to the general reader, so we content ourselves with advising those who contemplate marriage or refurnishing home to inspect Messrs. Aitken & Roberts' new stock before doing so. The second storey is partly fitted up as a show-room and for the storage of surplus stock.

page 219

We were very glad to see the extent our colonial industries were encouraged, for here could be purchased, at prices lower than if imported, such necessaries as copper boilers (with and without furnaces), ranges, ovens, garden seats, brushware of all kinds, iron and wooden wheelbarrows, lead washers, and the patent lead-headed nail, a most useful and efficient roofing washer and nail combined.

Leaving the front shop we enter a spacious yard, the entrance to which is also obtained via Cashel and Lichfield Streets. It is here the bulk goods of hardware are stored in large, well-built sheds, whilst in the yard proper may be seen galvanized iron, hoop iron, lead, ridging, sash weights, boiler and roofing felts, copper, galvanized and iron boilers of all sizes, nails, charcoal, and hot water apparatus and fittings suitable for conservatories, &c.