Bousfields, a well-established men’s clothing store, has announced its closure after 121 years of operation.The shop, known for its high-quality men’s apparel and impeccable customer service, has been a longstanding fixture in the community, having served generations of discerning gentlemen.
The store blamed the ongoing pandemic and a decline in foot traffic for its decision to close its doors permanently. Bousfields will be missed for its classic, timeless style, expert tailoring, and exceptional customer care that has kept customers coming back for over a century.
Its closure represents a significant loss for the local retail scene and the end of an era in the history of men’s fashion.
Established 1902 – 22nd March 2023
Bousfields Past and Present management would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to all our patrons who have supported us over the years. We have been proud to serve the community, and it has been an invaluable experience for us. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, we’ve had to make the difficult decision to close Bousfields menswear.
We would like to thank each of our customers who have walked through our doors, and all those who have been loyal to us. We are proud to have been a part of your lives and to have shared so many great memories with you. It was an absolute pleasure to serve everyone who came into our shop, and we will always cherish those moments.
We cannot thank you enough for the support and patronage you have provided us over the years. We hope that we have left a positive impact on the community, and we will treasure the memories we have shared with you. Once again, thank you for your support, and we hope to keep in touch with our beloved customers.
Bousfields management would like to express their sincere gratitude to all the staff who have contributed to the company’s success over the years.
The hard work, dedication, and commitment of every employee have helped to establish Bousfields as a reputable and reliable provider of high-quality services.
From the beginning to the end of their valuable services, the staff has shown incredible professionalism and expertise, and it is their efforts that have made Bousfields what it is today. The management is proud of the positive impact that the company has made on the lives of their customers and the wider community.
As they close this chapter and move forward into new ventures, Bousfields would like to thank each and every employee for their valuable contribution and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.
Bousfields management would like to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to our suppliers for all the support you have given us since our establishment in 1902 until our recent closure in March 2023.
Your unwavering dedication and commitment to providing us with quality menswear products has been instrumental in helping us serve our customers throughout the years. Your expertise, guidance, and partnership have helped us grow and develop our business, and we are grateful for all the memories we shared together.
Although our journey has come to an end, we will always remember the positive impact you had on our business and we wish you all the best in your future.
Thank you once again for your loyalty, professionalism, and friendship.
THE LATE JOHN MONKHOUSE BOUSFIELD
Mr John Monkhouse Bousfield passed away suddenly on September 1 at the
residence of his son, Mr T.P. Bousfield, Fortescue -street, East Fremantle. The
deceased, who was 75 years of age, was born in Durham, England, and had
resided in Victoria for 60 years, and in this State for the last eight years.
He was an engineer by trade, and during the Great War, although 67 years of age, he was anxious to Serve his country,. therefore he went to England as a
munitions worker. In spite of his age, he accomplished his task, which proves
that he was a most exceptional man. His was certainly a patriotic family, as no
less than four of his sons was engaged on active service or war work. Mr
Bousfield was a regular attendant of the Baptist Church. The funeral cortege
I moved from the residence on Tuesday afternoon, the 2nd inst. and proceeded
to Fremantle Cemetery, where the remains were interred in the Baptist portion.
The Revs. Wesley Smith and Shiner, and Pastor Law Davies, officiated at the
graveside. The chief mourners were Messers. T.P. and C. Bousfield (sons)
and Frank Bousfield (grandson). The pall bearers were Messers, R.H. Angus,
R. Thompson, K and V. W. Ward, R. Crawford, S. Hancock and H. J. Clifton,
deacons of the Baptist Church, Fremantle, and Mr. J. R. Barrett. Wreaths were
sent by the staffs of Messrs. Purser and Bousfield, and Arthur Anderson and
Co., Messrs. G.R. Wills and Co. Ltd., Lancaster and Co., relatives and many
friends. Numerous messages of sympathy have been received by the bereaved
relatives. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Messrs. Arthur E.
Davies and Co., of Fremantle and Claremont.
Purser & Bousfield, previously located at 10 Market Street Fremantle, underwent renovations upon moving to their new location at 51 Market Street. J.W. Potter, a builder from Collie Street, was contracted to undertake the £491.0.6 renovations, which were completed in July 1927. Mr. Purser occupied the upper floor for his tailoring needs, with alterations made to the cutting table and workroom. The new location also saw new locks, office improvements, and changes to the signs and blinds. It is unclear whether Messrs. Purser and Bousfield occupied the premise before the alterations. A Weather Book was commenced at the time of the move, which recorded the weather every working day from April 1st 1927 to March 1954. The book provided insight into sales fluctuations based on weather conditions, with various articles and cartoons from West Australian and Daily News between its pages.
In the early 1920s, Mr. Bousfield introduced boy’s clothing and implemented a Birthday Roll to encourage young customers. Staff were responsible for checking the birthday list daily to ensure no boy was overlooked. Bousfields received positive feedback from customers for their good quality boys clothing at reasonable prices. A Docket competition in 1935 offered the winner, Master John Perrott, a NAVY SERGE SUIT valued at 30/- or garments of equal value.
Thank you letters from satisfied customers were received from diverse suburbs, with many tributes among the collection. The staff at Bousfields increased to three in 1932 with Dick Rankin and Frank Burns joining, but they left in 1934 around the time changes in the partnership were taking place. In the mid-1930s, Thomas Bousfield appeared in court to legalize his right to continue in business. The firm traded under the name of T.P. Bousfield following this appearance. The partnership between Joseph Purser and Thomas Bousfield ended in 1935/36. Frank Bousfield joined his father in the business in 1935 as a junior boy, and a year later, Laurence Haskell took over sweeping duties from Frank. Laurie remained with the firm, retiring in 1991 after 57 years. Unable to renew their lease at 51 Market Street, T.P. Bousfield held their last sale before moving to new premises at 97 High Street.
The relocation to 97 High Street marked the end of their moving endeavors. According to the records of Fremantle City Council, the business name changed to TP. & F. Bousfield during World War II and remained so until 1966/67. When Frank Bousfield offered partnerships to his son Maxwell, son-in-law Albert Paull, and a loyal employee, Laurence Haskell, they decided to keep the Bousfield name intact due to its well-known reputation for providing quality clothing at reasonable prices to the people of Fremantle.
Mr. Bousfield Sr. continued the practice of sending birthday gifts, along with a personal letter. When boys reached the age of sixteen, he would send a congratulatory letter, expressing the idea that they had entered the “portal of manhood,” and that their dress had a direct impact on the impression they made on others. Eventually, birthday cards included a check from the Bank of Good Wishes, and by the 1950s, the card was replaced with a birthday message on the wireless station 6PM. This letter could now be considered a form of direct advertising and good public relations for TP. Bousfield, who used various advertising methods, including appealing to tourists in the ‘West Australian Guide to Tourists.’
During World War II, Laurie Haskell served in the navy as a Sick Berth Attendant and was posted to H.M.A.S. Australia. He was “Mentioned in Dispatches” for his bravery during an attack by Japanese suicide planes, where he remained on deck looking after the wounded despite the intensity of the attack. In 1946, he resumed his previous position at TP. & F. Bousfield, while Ted Gomer joined the company in 1941.
Due to the shortage of stock during the war, the store occasionally traded for only three days a week. Any limited or challenging-to-obtain goods were kept under the counter for their regular clients.
The shop front was boarded up as a precaution against bombing. Mr. Bousfield Sr. saw this as an opportunity to advertise by using the boarding as a promotional space. The building at 97 and 99 High Street was shared between A.J. Noble and Bousfields, with a brick wall dividing the two sections. They shared the responsibility of alterations and repairs, as well as taxes and rates on the whole building. If one party wanted to sell, the other had the first right to buy.
Following his father’s death, Frank Bousfield acquired his half of the building, which became known as 97 High Street. At this time, Thomas Bousfield was in his late 60s and unable to drive his car. Frank took on the role of chauffeur for family outings and events, while Thomas continued to take the tram to work each day. The tram conductors knew their regulars, and in the case of T.P. Bousfield, they would ring the bell when approaching the shop near Fortescue Street in East Fremantle. If Mr. Bousfield was not there, the conductor would inform passengers that he was absent and would wait for him to arrive before continuing the journey.
Thomas Percival Bousfield passed away on August 25, 1947, at the age of 69, leaving behind a widow, two adult children, and five grandchildren. He was buried near his father in Fremantle Cemetery.
The post-war period of 1950’s to the late 1960’s were boom times in the clothing trade.
Stock was plentiful, people wanted to replace worn out clothing while at the same time looking for new styles. Migrants were introducing new fashions, such as Italians and their stove pipe pants. Bousfields increased their staff numbers and took on casual staff for Saturday mornings and sales.
One of the new staff members was Albert (Alby) Paull. He was employed in 1951 and except for a six months stint in National Service, Alby stayed at Bousfields until his retirement in 1998. He enjoyed the personal relationship with the customer together with the emphasis placed on customer service.
Frank Bousfield like his father before him, was an active member of the Baptist Church, and he maintained the Christian values introduced into the business by T.P. Bousfield. It was these values that Alby, Laurie Haskell and other staff members saw as important in
their relationship with the customers.
Frank took time to write and publish the history of the Baptist Church in
Fremantle. He was active in civic affairs combining with other businessmen to establish Fremantle Cash Orders. People on a low income could obtain an order for a certain amount, use it to buy goods in nominated shops and payoff the order at aminimum amount.
Bousfields had a Thrift Account in which customers could place whatever amount they could afford and use that amount to buy goods. Regular customers were able to take clothes home on approval, to see if they were suitable and return them in a few days. These measures were slanted towards the customers rather than profit margin.
At times people who were down on their luck would come into the shop, asking
for money. Rather than give money, which might be wasted, Frank Bousfield or Laurie Haskell would take the person to a cafe in Market Street and buy them a meal.
A female customer remembers the time when she fell outside the Commonwealth Bank in Fremantle on the opposite side of High Street to Bousfields, twisting her ankle.
Alby Paull came to her rescue and drove her home. It is generous acts such as these that have earned the staff at Bousfields a reputation for kindness and consideration to all.
In 1958 Maxwell Bousfield joined his father in the business. Max had spent 6 years in the employ of Worths and Boans menswear departments learning the clothing trade. His father had done the same in order to work with T.P. Bousfield. Max brought new ideas to the firm, changing some of the book-keeping systems and the birthday messages. Bousfields was a forward looking firm, not afraid to introduce new technology or systems. The 1970’s – 80’s saw many changes in the social and economic systems. Re- structuring on the waterfront saw a decline of ‘wharfies’ employed, which meant a loss
of business, as many shopped at Bousfields. Some changes in seaman’s clothing issues also had an effect. The America’s Cup Race brought as many problems as it did extra
business – shoplifting increased. Gradual demise of local warehouses to eastern states interests changed the ordering process.
Each year Bousfields would supply a number of local schools with their uniforms.
This was a profitable venture, bringing customers into the shop to order the uniforms.
The introduction of Parents and Citizens groups supplying the uniforms themselves eventually saw decline in the amount of stock held, until it was no longer fmancially viable to continue.
Increase in the number of shopping centres, such as Booragoon, with free parking
resulted in many Fremantle shoppers using those facilities. Parking problems in Fremantle have been a source of concern to all business’s for many years.
De-regulation of hours have caused major upsets in staff rosters, changed customer shopping patterns, and done little to improve business. It would appear that
only major stores such as Myer, Aherns have gained any benefit with the new hours.
Goods and Services Tax introduced in 2000 is proving to have a negative effect on business, though this may only be short term.
A major change was the retirement of Alby Paull, with ownership going to Bruce Haskell in 1999. For the first time in 94 years the Bousfield family no longer have a connection to the business, apart from the name. What has not changed is the way the
business is run. According to a customer, ” the atmosphere is still the same since Bruce took over, cost and quality have been maintained and the staff welcome you.’? Due to decline in business, staff numbers have been static. Alby was not replaced and casual staff have not been employed. Jo-Anne and Bruce Haskell and two senior long-term employees represent the staff quota at the moment. In 1969 Ron Abernethy joined the staff and Ray Whincop was employed in 1981. Between them they know the business inside out and form a supportive and stable base to the business. In an interview Laurie Haskell said, “We’ve always tried to run the store on
Christian principles. The shop has been through plenty of hard times as well as good, but our doors are still open through the grace of God” The future has some problems to overcome, but Bousfields is a good business, with solid economic management and an excellent reputation within the community.
Bousfields, a well-established men’s clothing store, has announced its closure after 121 years of operation. The shop, known for its high-quality men’s apparel and impeccable customer service, has been a longstanding fixture in the community, having served generations of discerning gentlemen. The store blamed the ongoing pandemic and a decline in foot traffic for its decision to close its doors permanently.
Bousfields will be missed for its classic, timeless style, expert tailoring, and exceptional customer care that has kept customers coming back for over a century.
Its closure represents a significant loss for the local retail scene and the end of an era in the history of men’s fashion.
Established 1902 – 22nd March 2023