By Sunny Liu
Mother and daughter Muriel and Kay Craddock have been operating Kay Craddock Antiquarian Bookstore since 1965 and last month Kay was recognised with a Lord Mayor’s Commendation for 50 years of contribution to the CBD.
Kay Craddock co-founded the Lord Mayor’s Commendations program with other small business owners in 2005 and said she was pleased to see the program evolve from a grassroots initiative to a mainstream award.
“People often talked about how some businesses were leaving the city, but I thought why didn’t we focus on the positives and recognise those who stay?” she said.
Ms Craddock immediately put her idea into action, enlisted some other city traders and, with the support from (later to become councillor) Kevin Louey, they took the idea to the Town Hall.
In 2006, the first Lord Mayor’s Commendations ceremony was held at the Town Hall by then Lord Mayor John So. Ms Craddock was the chairperson until 2015.
Ms Craddock said recognising and supporting small businesses was essential to boost the city’s morale.
“Small businesses are the foundation of the city. They are enormously important for the city’s morale and they create good connenctions between constituents and the Town Hall,” she said.
“It seems to me the Lord Mayor’s Commendations program was one way the city could reach out to its constituents in a non-political way.”
“We all like a pat on the back and it makes a big difference to small businesses when they are recognised,” Ms Craddock said.
The program celebrates the commitment of small business proprietors to the city’s economy and liveability.
According to Ms Craddock, the non-competitive and non-bureaucratic nature of the program made it a valuable recognition of the important fabric of Melbourne.
The Kay Craddock Bookstore first relocated to Bourke St in 1990 and later moved to its current location at 156 Collins St.
Ms Craddock and her 105-year-old mother Muriel had been business partners for decades until Muriel retired some years ago.
The bookshop sells antique and modern books from the 14th to the 21st century and has been ranked one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops.
She said the secret of running a successful small business was “maintaining the good name”.
“It’s all about the good name and maintaining the integrity of the name. A brand is only as good as the person running the business,” she said.
“When people come to the shop they should automatically think quality, dependable and reputable. The sense of ownership over the business you are running is part of our story.”
To Ms Craddock, small businesses make up Melbourne’s unique personality.
“When you see big brands like Chanel and Gucci, you could be in any city. But when you see shops like ours, you know you are in Melbourne,” she said.
“We are the faces of Melbourne and it’s the people who give the city personality.”
Having been in business for more than 50 years, the future of Kay Craddock Antiquarian Bookseller seems as bright as today.
“I will just keep on keeping on,” Ms Craddock said.