Home and the hardware store

Below is a short section about the Faram Bros hardware store. I had written this early in the year to demonstrate on what sort of basis I claim some people care about what happens in buildings. In editing a lot of the detail went, so feel free to point out any obvious omissions.

In areas like the mixed use zone of Port Melbourne, there has been a major emphasis on residential development. While new commercial spaces have been created at the ground level, the increased financial value associated with these buildings and council planning policies have resulted in the area around the Bay Street shopping strip becoming lined with apartment developments.

Bay Street is where Faram Bros used to be. The closed down hardware store has been gutted, and at the time of writing it was waiting to be developed into apartments with ground floor commercial space. As the site waits to provide homes, it demonstrates how new housing can be seen as responsible for displacing the attachments of existing residents to a time thought of as ‘before the change’.

Faram Brothers Hardware Store was a place where they would fix your shopping jeep’s wheel and charge you only for the single screw. Its personalised service, and hand tallied bills are still recalled with fondness. The shop had been handed down one last time, father to son. After the father died, the shop was closed, sold and has now been gutted. The retention of the front walls and veranda posts was lamented as facadism by many people. On the other hand, as somebody else explained to me, it really was only a shed behind and so there was not much to keep.

People do talk about the way things were stacked on the shelves. The very mishmash of screws in little boxes on the tall shelves are missed. The change in use of the premises, so there is no longer a hardware where you could get personalised help and buy things in small quantities, is still lamented. Faram’s has been part of the commercial and social geography of many people in the area. Faram’s is no longer a place you can go, but when a shopping jeep wheel starts to wobble the store is still evoked in conversation. The object of the screw is not able to be obtained through this shop which no longer exists, but the idea of the shop is still able to be named, indicating a shared history in the group.

The loss of hardware store and anticipated building of apartments are the reconfiguration of the commercial and housing realm as a result of human practice. Faram’s was no longer commercially viable once its trade customers went elsewhere, both in terms of moving out of Port Melbourne to more affordable areas and in terms of no longer purchasing through a small, family run business.

The anticipated apartments will alter the built environment, or the physical landscape, but they may also alter the social world of Port Melbourne. The anticipated apartments would mean people living where once was air.

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