Business Booms In The Shadow Of War

At the end of the 1800s the Karoo was brimful with entrepreneurs despite the fact that the winds of war were blowing across the country.   Even when the Anglo-Boer War was in full swing businessmen had sufficient confidence in the economy of the hinterland to launch new ventures and carry extensive stocks. Newspapers of the day contained advertisements of seasonal sales and announcements of “huge new stock” arrivals.  The local plumber in Beaufort West, C A Heyne, advertised in 1900 that he was extending his business and had imported machinery to “bend iron for 50 to 400 gallon water tanks and to form single and double bend veranda roofs.” Among the bigger entrepreneurs were Bayer and Davidoff, general merchants, who opened a huge new store in Beaufort West in November, 1901.  They advertised an “enormous stock” which included “2 350 pairs of boots and shoes, 2 800 shirts, 375 pairs of trousers, 150 suits, 300 dozen ties, 100 dresses, corsets from 2/6 to 15/-, 200 pieces of muslin, 50 pieces of silk, 50 different kinds of hats for gentlemen from 3/6 to 35/-,  a huge variety of sailor hats for men, women and children – and, for a hot place like the Karoo – sunshades and umbrellas from 3/6d.”  Bayer and Davidoff also stocked linoleums, carpets, table cloths, curtains and groceries.   Among their special opening offers was coffee at sixpence a pound.

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