What’s in store for Bruce?

Bousfields owner Bruce Haskell.
Bousfields owner Bruce Haskell.

‘You should run your business the way you run your home,’ he says.

‘If someone walked into your home you’d say hello to them, wouldn’t you?’

If the shop seems like something from another era, it could because it is, having opened its doors in 1902.

In 1912 it was named Purser and Bousfield and a century later, having dropped Purser from the name, Bousfields Menswear remains largely unchanged, with old shop equipment in a display case and generations of staff photos lined up along the counter.

Pointing to one featuring Alby Paull, Laurie Haskell and Frank Bousfield, Mr Haskell points out the changing face of retail in Fremantle, and indeed around the world.

From having eight or nine people working a Saturday shift, that finished at 1pm, to just two or three staff members and ever-growing pressure to open longer and longer hours, retail has drifted away from necessity and convenience to entertainment.

‘In the 1960s you only went to buy something if you really needed it,’ he says.

‘You’d walk in and say ‘I need a shirt’ and so they’d sit you down and bring out all the shirts they had.’

But it isn’t just a nod to the past and a friendly face that has allowed the business to outlive so many others.

Mr Haskell says small, family operations can adapt and persist better than chain stores, despite the difficult market he still stocks items you can’t buy elsewhere and people come in specifically for them.

‘I hate plastic fantastic, I go into shopping centres and I cringe,’ he says

‘Having grown up in Fremantle I like the little independent stores.’

‘I might be in retail but I cringe when I hear people talking about going shopping as a family outing,’ Mr Haskell says.

‘Take the kids to the beach.’