It’s one of the last old-fashioned country outfitters in our neck of the woods, and the doors will soon close on 108 years of service.
Reilly’s store in Quirindi’s main street will wind up early next year.
It’s a date that’s been brought forward by the drought but part of the planned retirement of the third-generation Reilly, who’s been at the reins for 40 years.
John Joseph Reilly opened the shop in May 1911, and it passed into the hands of his son, then his grandson.
JJ Reilly, Frank Reilly and current owner-manager John Reilly have been the three faces of the business, the two younger generations working alongside their fathers until taking over the store.
The latter Mr Reilly came home after having studied law and working in a Sydney legal firm for 10 years.
“I came home to help my father out for six months and have been here just over 40 years,” he said.
Mr Reilly said he hadn’t made many alterations to the shop during his time.
“So many people … have said, ‘Don’t change anything – keep it as it is, don’t change a thing.’”
Some of the historical features include a 1920s Lamson Paragon cash carrier, which slingshots money and dockets to the back office but hasn’t been used in 30 years.
There are pressed metal ceilings and stately fixtures in Richmond River pine, including a counter of “incredible length” made up of just two planks side-by-side.
Mr Reilly said computers had been the biggest change, bringing both challenges and opportunities to bricks-and-mortar stores.
Another change had been styles: “There’s less formality in dress … there’s more jeans sold than anything else, I think, here.”
His favourite memories include celebrating the shop’s centenary in 2011, and the staff and loyal customers.
“The Golland and Simson families have been coming [to shop at Reilly’s] for about five generations.”
He said he wouldn’t put the business on the market because he didn’t want to sell the Reilly name – or reputation.
“I’d rather go out on my terms than anyone else’s,” he said.
His plans in retirement include his hobby of refinishing Australian cedar furniture and keeping on top of other investments.
And what will it be like to close the doors for the last time on a three-generation family business?
“It will be a sad occasion, but life goes on. ‘The king is dead; long live the king’ as the saying goes.”