By CASEY NEILL
THOUSANDS flocked to McCrae Street to watch Dandenong mayor Keith Miller open Myer’s doors on 4 November 1974.
“And they even drank coffee as they waited for the store to open!” The Journal reported on its front page.
The $10 million complex was touted as “four levels packed with values and excitement” and dominated the Dandenong skyline.
“Huge crowds thronged streets surrounding the huge emporium, but it was an orderly and patient grand opener to the biggest retail boost Dandenong has seen,” The Journal reported.
The paper even brought “Australia’s top recording star Johnny Farnham” to the event.
“Johnny, who went to school locally and whose parents live in Dandenong North, will be at the store for the official opening at 9am by the Mayor of Dandenong, councillor Keith Miller.”
“The singing superstar will be at the store for about an hour.”
Former Dandenong Retail Trader’s Association (DRTA) chairman Roy Aspinall said central Dandenong was a completely different place when he and Margaret Spencer opened Highway Bowls Centre in Walker Street in 1980.
“Lonsdale Street was the focal point with stores like Katies, McEwan’s and the Coles General Store with a famed Coles Cafeteria,” he said.
“The arrival of Myer was a great boost for Dandenong but it was also the start of the massive change to trading.
“First there was the Capital Centre and then that was enlarged to be the Dandenong Plaza and that became the focal point.
“General trading became centred there and it was the specialist shops that kept the other areas alive.
“Stores like ourselves, Rob’s The British Butcher, Knit ‘N’ Pearl (then on Lonsdale Street) and in time Compleat Angler, Drummonds and the bridal shops that were destination shops.”