Canberra Business Chamber has found the oldest businesses in the national capital, two including two shoe shops that have been operating for more than 90 years.
The oldest survivors were revealed on Thursday night at the chamber's annual dinner at the National Museum.
The Business Chamber itself is celebrating its 87th birthday, having been formed by a group of prominent local businessmen early in 1932.
Chamber CEO Dr Michael Schaper said despite its public service beginnings, Canberra was now a private sector town with a proud history of pioneering businesses.
"We put a call out to Canberrans to help us identify the longest-lasting, oldest firms in town," Dr Schaper said.
"We were inundated with a whole range of businesses, over many decades. And there are some remarkable stories as well."
The chamber said the oldest businesses were:
- Cusacks, who started in 1918 in Yass and subsequently became one of the first shops to trade in the Manuka precinct when it opened in 1925, in what is now The Public Bar;
- The Canberra Burns Club, formed in 1924;
- The Canberra Times which published its first edition in 1926;
- Redpath and Frawleys shoe shops (1922 and 1927 respectively. Although Redpath's sign does say 1930);
- YWCA, which started in 1929; and
- Radio 2CA, broadcasting since 1931.
"All of these businesses are at least 85 years young, and still going strong," Dr Schaper said. "These are great stories of success and achievement, especially when you consider that the average life of a business in Australia is less than 10 years.
"Most all of these are also members of the Canberra Business Chamber, reflecting the long history of mutual support that exists between the Chamber and established businesses in town."
Another large group of businesses from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s were also profiled at the dinner.
"Today Canberra is a private sector town - almost two-thirds of local residents now work outside of government. Whilst that's a relatively new trend, the private sector has always been important to the ACT," Dr Schaper said.
Redpath Shoes in Garema Place is now owned by Poppy and Michael Vassiliotis, with the business first owned by Alec Redpath, a bootmaker who had previously mended the boots of Royal Military College cadets.
Redpath Shoe Repairs and Travelling Goods originally opened in The Lawns in Manuka, it's believed in 1922. The business later opened a branch in Garema Place.
Mr Vassiliotis has owned Redpaths since 1985. It still has a shoe repair business on site and sells eclectic shoes from Europe.
Mrs Vassiliotis said they were proud to be part of such a long retailing history in Canberra.
"It's a tough industry and you need to have a niche and to give something back to the customer, otherwise they will shop online or in the big centres," she said.