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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Low cost, low rent area means you save on diamond rings here!


My cousin John is co-owner in a stylish jewellery business in the centre of the city of Christchurch New Zealand. The business is called Youngs Jewellers and for a number of years now it has been located in New Regent St, selling both antique and contemporary pieces of jewellery. After a devastating earthquake struck  in 2011, the city centre was closed and unauthorised access was severely restricted, but John somehow managed to get inside the cordon and retrieve all the stock. He and his co-owner then operated the business out of a garage for over two years, until New Regent St was finally re-opened for business. It is still one of the few areas in the central business district that have been able to re-open, with much of the rest either destroyed or demolished. It's been quite a few years since I've connected up with John, but I've certainly admired the look of his shop on recent visits, and his mother has updated me on post-quake progress. 

Although John and I had a mutual great great grandfather called Charles Young, the business was not connected to him or any of his descendants. It was bought by John's father, my uncle Peter Morrison, in the late 1970s, and when Peter passed away in 1994, his son took over the business. Young's prides itself on having been a jewellery business since 1907, and I believe the original owner was A E Young. I haven't found out very much about A. E. Young personally, but I did find a few advertisements for the business in the 1920s, and I thought it was interesting that the main enticement to buy seemed to be that you could get jewellery there for less because they were in a low rent area.  You can see this in the following advertisement, for example, which refers to the practice of rack renting, which according to Wikipedia is an extortionate or excessive rent.

The Press 20 April 1926, snipped from the Papers Past web site
John Morrison, grandfather of John and myself, got married in 1919, and I wonder if he perhaps purchased a wedding ring for wife Mona Forbes from A.E. Young.  Out of interest, here are a few other advertisements that appeared on the same page.

Mona might have got her hair done by J.H. Ratcliffe, they could have munched on Griffins Nut-&-Raisin Chocolate
And the family pram which I've previously featured here could well have been bought from Henery Burson & Sons Ltd. It no doubt provided the six Morrison children, including my mother and Peter, with a comfortable ride.

However, I rather doubt whether either John or Mona ever frequented the Turkish Baths below. Probably not their style!


Here are a couple more advertisements for A.E. Young. At that time the business operated out of premises in Oxford Terrace, but it has changed address several times since then, and is no longer in a 'low rent'area.
The Press 19 Jul 1927, snipped from Paperspast web site

The Press 12 Oct 1926, snipped from the Papers Past web site

Here are some photographs I took in New Regent St in 2010, between earthquakes, and in 2013, after the building's renovation and re-opening.

My late aunt Patricia Morrison in front of her nephew John's shop, November 2010 

Jewellery display in Youngs, November 2010

Seen through Youngs' window with street reflections, October 2013.

View of  New Regent St, rather less than busy, and minus the tram that used to operate down the street, October 2013. Youngs is the second shop from left. You can read more about the construction and history of New Regent St here. The trams resumed operations in late 2013.

By contrast, I fear that a lot of the city centre still looks like it did in this final photograph from October 2013.  I'm in awe of the resilience and determination of the people who live there, like my cousin John.

Christchurch city centre, October 2013

You can find a recent photo and article in the Press mentioning John and the business here.

 To read more blogs based on this week's advertising prompt, just click and go to Sepia Saturday 263


  1. An excellent and interesting post, Jo.

  2. An enjoyable post.

    I visited Christchurch in 2003 and found it to be a beautiful city. Such a shame!

    The short phone numbers of times gone-by always amuses me.

  3. An excellent story. Any business that can survive an earthquake as well as all the other calamities since 1907 deserves to be celebrated.

  4. Claiming location in a low rent district is a novel advertising tool. I don't think it would work today.

  5. In the Oct. 2013 photos, Young's no longer appears to be in the low-rent district, but in a rather fashionable shopping area? The old ads urging folks to come to the low-rent district for a quality product at low prices reminded me of the time I went to a pawn shop in the not-so-great part of Berkeley, CA to trade a small portable typewriter for a guitar. I knew I'd have to pay cash over & above the value of the typewriter & was ready to haggle the price a bit, but the proprietor was so worried about my being in that part of town he hardly haggled at all, & after selling me the guitar, gave me orders to get on the bus & get back up to the better part of town. Gosh, I hadn't thought of that in years. :))

    1. No, New Regent St is definitely not low-rent. Youngs has only been there since maybe 2000, but you can read a bit about the street's creation here:

  6. A gem of a post that sparkles throughout!

  7. I wouldn't mind shopping at Young's now. It looks most attractive. and was probably a value-plus shop in the past. But you have to hand it to the people who persevere after natural disasters. I take my hat off to them.. I don;t know that I could do it.

  8. It's fun that you can trace the history of the store through their ads. But how very sad to have been effected by an earthquake. It looks to be doing very well now.

  9. One tends to forget the scale of the devastation of that earthquake - for us at the other side of the world it is headlines one day and forgotten the next. Thanks for reminding us and thanks for sharing those magnificent adverts - I have always wanted to go to a Turkish Bath.