‘I have set up shop!’ Mary Taylor wrote to her friend, the novelist Charlotte Brontë, from Wellington in April 1850. The shop, on the corner of Dixon and Cuba Streets, was typical of the draperies, often started by women, that expanded into department stores. By 1853 it was listed in the Wellington and southern province almanac as one of the city’s ‘principal stores’. It later became James Smith’s, a major Wellington department store until the early 1990s. Taylor reported to Brontë that she was delighted with her business. ‘The best of it is that your labour has some return.’ (Quoted in Joan Stevens, ed., Mary Taylor: friend of Charlotte Brontë. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1972, pp. 92–93.)
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