OVER AND OUT: Bernadette Sorrensen hands over the reins of the Maryborough Paint Centre to Michelle and Len Davis after 33 years in business, while Margo Shillig (inset) is signing off at Dimmeys after 26 years of service.
OVER AND OUT: Bernadette Sorrensen hands over the reins of the Maryborough Paint Centre to Michelle and Len Davis after 33 years in business, while Margo Shillig (inset) is signing off at Dimmeys after 26 years of service. Jocelyn Watts/Fraser Coast Chronicle

Changing of the guard

FOUR familiar faces on Maryborough’s Adelaide Street have disappeared from the business scene this week – and with them goes about 140 years’ combined experience.

Bernadette Sorrensen from the Maryborough Paint Centre (33 years), Margo Shillig from Dimmeys department store (26 years) and Lyn and Leif Neilsen from Rillies Shoex (about 80 years between them) closed their tills for the last time on Friday – all destined to enjoy many years of retirement.

Bernadette intends to “do a trip here and do a trip there”, Margo “just wants to have fun” and the Neilsens will finally get to hook up the caravan they bought four years ago and travel.

It’s been a long haul for each of the four since starting out in their respective careers.

Bernadette and husband Ivan set up the paint shop in the mid-’70s when bright oranges and lime green were in vogue.

“The bright colours of 33 years ago have come back in but now people use them to paint just one wall as a feature whereas back then it was all walls or each a different colour,” she said.

“It used to be just acrylic or enamel too; now there’s a bigger, wider range – everything from suede paints to how they’re applied.

“We specialised in automotive paints, which are very technical.”

The Sorrensens put their shop on the market when Ivan fell ill.

“But he didn’t last six months,” Bernadette said. “After he died in 2001 I had to work so I kept it going; it’s a good little business.”

Daughter Deanne and husband Troy Churton will continue to work with new owners Len and Michel Davis, former business owners who came out of retirement to take up a new challenge.

“I thought I’d be sad but I’m not,” Bernadette said as she mulled over her plans to travel.

“I’d love to go on a cruise, maybe to Fiji. I’ve always said I can’t leave the shop but now I’ve got no excuse.”

Ms Shillig, from Sydney, said she couldn’t believe how fast the years had flown since she started at Dimmeys in 1984 when the business was Boys Department Store.

“I’m not going anywhere; my family still live here ... I’m just going to have some fun.”

It was mixed emotions for Lyn and Leif Neilson on Friday as they handed over the business Lyn’s father Bob Rillie started in 1928 to Themy Pham.

Starting at R.J. Rillie Star Shoe Store at 15 years of age, Lyn worked for about six years before moving to Brisbane where she worked in the shoe department of McDonald and East.

When her mother became ill, she took over the family store in Kent Street so that her father could become a full-time carer.

In 1984 Lyn and Leif bought Lyn’s father’s store, which they moved to Adelaide Street in 1996, and in 1985 they expanded the business into Hervey Bay.

Lyn and Leif will continue to operate the Hervey Bay store at Pialba Place until the lease expires at the end of March.

‘I’d love to go on a cruise, maybe to Fiji. I’ve always said I can’t leave the shop but now I’ve got no excuse’



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