A new wine and cheese shop has opened at the corner of Vincent and Albert Streets but cheese was first sold there more than a hundred years ago.
Around 1915, James and William Evans opened a grocery business on the premises. Although Evans and Evans began as a small store, the business grew and grew and became known as “The Big Store”.
As well as groceries, The Big Store sold everything from sweets to stockfeed, mining tools to gifts and eventually even petrol. They specialised in coffee and stocked thirty different varieties which they ground on the premises. And in the 1930s they introduced a lending library, no doubt to meet the needs of the burgeoning numbers of tourists visiting Daylesford and Hepburn.
But they also sold cheese which they bought “new” in 40 pound (18kg) blocks and matured in their cellar.
In the days before pre-packaging, customers would call into to the shop to order goods that were made up and delivered throughout the district every week. Evans and Evans had three delivery wagons and also sent out staff on ponies to collect orders.
The shop was sold in 1948 and the new owners had their liquor licence transferred – now it was selling cheese and wine!
The business passed through several hands until in 1984 it became the Supa Valu supermarket, owned by Diane and Alan Nicholson. The shop known as Nico’s became a Daylesford institution, with a loyal following amongst local people for more than 20 years, even after it changed hands in 2006.
However, in 2014 the shop closed when part of the building was condemned and then an external brick wall was found to be in danger of collapse.
Now six years later the building has been repaired and renovated as three shops and Winespeake’s Jen Latta has brought cheese and wine back to the corner store.
Jen explained that when the iconic site became available earlier in the year, she wanted to jump straight in. She hopes it will be her next step to becoming an institution too, as a wine and cheese supplier in the heart of Daylesford.
For the last seven years, Jen has owned two small businesses side-by-side with a loyal following of discerning customers, but this new site means she can house all her products under the one roof.
“I’ve seen first-hand the curveballs that farming can throw through my husband Owen’s vineyard and winery ‘Eastern Peake’ so our local winemakers and growers are heavily represented in our offering. It’s all about supporting these small vignerons and makers,” Jen said.
Many thanks to the Daylesford & District Historical Society for their help in researching this article.