We are aware that you have a remarkable following. Do you attribute this to your strong connection to the history behind the store? How much of the history influences the items you curate? The designers you support?
When I was 11, in the mid 1960’s I first discovered the East End Market, and the incredibly exotic Miss Gladys Sym Choon store. The whole place was from another age. If you half closed your eyes, so you can’t recognise the few modern cars on the street it was pretty much like it was in 1923 when Gladys opened her store. In 1985 when Razak and I secured the lease of the store we asked Gladys if she would let us use the Miss Gladys Sym Choon name, thereby retaining the nickel plated sign on the extraordinary Shanghai Deco façade.
She said yes because she’d been Mrs Gladys Chung Gon since 1937 but had never felt inclined to alter the shopfront. That sparked a fascination . She was 18 when she started her business and she got married 15 years later. How did this happen and what was she doing in the 15 years.
She ran the business as a single woman of Chinese descent in conservative Adelaide. The fascination became an obsession and before too long we knew more about the “thoroughly modern Gladys” than her family did.
"The place is a shrine celebrating those who are independent creative, and both international and intensely local."
Prior to the closure of the produce market in 1988, with the guidance of historian Patricia Summerling, we interviewed the old blokes of the market and got plenty of gossip a mother wouldn’t tell her children. She was a free spirit and creative business woman and South Australias first female company director. She was also constantly reminded of her ethnicity when she tried to re-enter Australia after one of her biannual buying trips to China.
Gladys was most likely born in the room that I am now writing this response. Her spirit is all over this place and our ambitions, I’m sure are not too far removed from hers. Our store like hers, is full to the rafters and nothing is either in or out of fashion. The place is a shrine celebrating those who are independent creative, and both international and intensely local. As buyers and curators, Razak and I have an acute sense of history. Memory and renewal guide our decisions on colours, fabrics shapes and styles.
We love that you are now in Aldinga – what is the vibe at Miss Gladys on Sea?
The Aldinga township, in many ways is like the East End in the mid 1980’s. For us this is a chance to apply some know-how to what we fumbled through then. We love our store there. The interconnected rooms with expanding and contracting spaces feels intimate and we enjoy doing makeovers with relaxed and trusting customers.
What do you love about the community at Aldinga?
Aldinga is so diverse. A country town almost consumed by outer metropolitan Adelaide, its community of greenies, ten pound poms, settler farmers, winemakers, artists, seachangers, tradies and weekend holiday makers are almost to a person, optimistic about the future of Aldinga as a place you would rather be. We have bonded with so many who share this vision and we are proud sponsors of the Aldinga Sharks.
What have you come to learn about MGOS clientele?
MGOS clientele often know who we are but now very rarely go to town. They love our slogan “London, Paris , New York, Aldinga “ and appreciate that our store offering is not a compromised version for the regions. We’re happy to get to know more but we’re loving the relaxed, informed clientele who don’t want to hassle with the traffic and can put comfort and style in the same sentence.
We thank the team at Miss Gladys on Sea for sharing with us! Please see store details below:
206 Port Road, Aldinga
Corner of Old Coach Rd and Port Rd
South Australia 5073
08 8556 5908
10:00am – 5:00pm everyday
open late in summer on Friday nights
We love that the area is so diverse and creative and we hope that you can see yourself at home in Aldinga, and at The Village Green!