My first job: Carol Brown, Mrs Oldbucks Pantry

Carol Brown from Mrs Oldbucks Pantry. Photo: supplied.

Carol Brown from Mrs Oldbucks Pantry. Photo: supplied.

Carol Brown’s smiling face is no stranger to Highlanders who love getting their hands on a tasty treat, but she has a bit of a cheeky history.

In 1976, at the age of 14, Carol landed her first job as a junior sales assistant in the China and glassware department of David Jones in Bondi Junction.

On an average day, the young worker would dust, unpack products and serve customers.

Carol said she loved everything about the job, especially working among beautiful items.

“David Jones was a wonderful training ground in the 1970’s,” she said.

“It had that edge of elegance and one of the first loyalty programs using their black store cards.

“It knew then that customer service was what made a business – the importance of using your customer’s name.

While Carol loved turning up to work every day, she wasn’t particularly pleased about having to wear pearls.

“Now they are my favourite,” she added.

The young observer learned a lot from her David Jones coworkers.

“My coworkers were a cross section of ages and gender which taught me that everyone of all ages contribute to the success of a business,” she said.

Of course, every teenager’s first job comes with an interesting tale or two, which Carol experienced for herself.

“I used to love when we had farewell parties or birthday cake,” she said.

“We used to take the beautiful wedgewood and royal Doulton China off the shelves to celebrate and then wash it and put it back afterwards.

“It was very cheeky, but also taught me food tastes totally different when beautifully presented.” 

Carol’s first job sparked he love for the retail industry and became the catalyst for a successful career.

“I love the buzz of busy periods and the interaction with the public and the energy,” she said.

“It’s what I have done for over 40 years.”

Since moving to the Southern Highlands in 2002, Carol spent the first six years of her time in the community as a full-time carer for her late husband.

She re-entered the workforce in 2008 as the admin manager of The Good Guys in Mittagong.

“It taught me about setting up a major store from an empty shelf,” Carol said.

“I remember walking into an empty shelf with a new team and two weeks later, opening up a great shop.”

From there, she was the operations manager for Harris Farm Markets in Bowral.

“This gave me my love of the fantastic local products the Highlands provides.

“I then saw Mrs Oldbucks Pantry for sale and thought for me personally, it was the perfect fit.”

Carol is now the owner of Mrs Oldbucks Pantry in Berrima, but said she preferred to refer to herself as the brand custodian.

“I believe that Mrs Oldbucks Pantry is bigger than the person that owns it,” she said.

The brand custodian purchased the business in January 2018 and wears many hats during her job.

“I deliver customer service, pack teas, honey and lollies, label and price jams, order and pay bills, manage online sales, develop the website and online store,” she said.

“I work on the business as much as I do in the business.

“It is important to know and understand every facet of what is happening in your business to successfully move forward.”

Carl said her job combined her three great loves – retail, customer service, and promoting Highlands’ products and small producers.

“I have found my utopia at 55,” the business woman said.

“I love the history and the story that Mrs Oldbucks has and to be successful in retail these days, it is about the story and the theatre.”

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