End of an era at Penneshaw as Granny Stirling closes

It’s an end of era at Penneshaw as the Granny Stirlings shop closes down after 25 years of selling local craft, art and produce.

The “grannies” that run the shop say they have no choice but to close the shop because of a lack of volunteers, despite its ongoing popularity with visitors to Kangaroo Island.

“We are disappointed the shop won’t be around anymore,” said Kathleen Northcott, one of the shop’s founding members and one of the few that remained active running the business till the end.

“It’s been a really good business, especially on cruise ship days and all the tourists love us.”

Fellow founding member Beth Willson said the shop showcased a vast array of Island poducts.

“It’s not just art but more craft and things produced locally,” Mrs Willson said. “It’s somewhere where you could find a gift for the neighbour for looking after the cat, that kind of thing.”

She explained the shop started when a group of Penneshaw ladies found themselves with surplus craft items and one their husbands suggested they try and sell the items.

“Several people were sewing things and the husband said, ‘Why don’t sell the stuff’ and that’s how it started,” she said.

Mrs Northcott said a lot people in Penneshaw enjoyed doing craft and sewing back then.

“But once you made a few things and given them to your family, what do you do with it,” she said. “So we decided to open a shop and it blossomed.”

So much so, that on that first day 25 years ago, much of the stock sold out and the ladies had to rush home to start sewing more items.

For the first year of its operation, the shop was located at the old Penneshaw post office building where Mary Anne Parsons, also known as Granny Stirling, became the postmistress in 1913.

Granny Stirling was also a midwife and became very well-known in the community, hence the name was adopted for the new shop.

It then moved to its current prominent corner location where it has remained ever since and the women who run the non-profit business like to call themselves the “grannies”. 

Items sold in the shop were sold on consignment for the creators and any profits, including from the much-loved Devonshire teas, were given to charity at the end of each financial year. 

You had to be invited to be a granny and be “energetic and keen” because there was a lot of responsibility involved, including cleaning, bookkeeping and ordering items.

Some of the original grannies who were active in the middle years, such as Fen Trethewey and Jill Perkins, had passed away while other simply grown too old.

Now the final active grannies were ready to give up their duties and responsibilities and move on, but there were no replacements to be found.

The remaining grannies gave a big thank-you to all the volunteers who had contributed to the shop over the years and much of the responsibility had fallen on original members Antien Furstner and Kathleen Northcott in the later years.

“There’s no equivalent anywhere on the Island,” Antien Furstner said, who while sad said she was ready to move on and their were other outlets to sell her artwork.  

The shop officially closes on May 31 and some of the furniture and display cabinets were already being sold.