By Sean Reynolds

    DRINK CINZANO VERMOUTH – Victoria Street, Footscray

    This iconic Cinzano advertisement overlooks the intersection of Victoria and Buckley Streets, bordering Footscray and Seddon.

    The shop dates back to 1903, originally occupied by John Patrick Brennan, a local grocer. John had been a grocer since 1892 at a now-demolished shop directly opposite this one. A May 1917 advertisement in the Footscray Advertiser announced his relocation: ‘Grocery Stores – Corner of Victoria & Buckley Sts Footscray. You always get value for your money here. Families waited on for orders. We specialise in the Blending of Teas, Ironmongery, Brushware, Crockery, &c. Brennan – The Cash Grocer – Phone: Footscray 158.’

    John passed away in 1929, aged 62. The shop remained a grocers until the late 1960s when it transformed into B. S. Television Service, specialising in TV repairs. I was told the shop might have once served as a ‘kafenio,’ a Greek coffee shop featuring backgammon, pool, and possibly illegal gambling in the back room. While I can’t confirm this claim, I like the colourful picture it paints.

    The Cinzano sign was most likely painted in the late 1950s, when Mr. E. S. Jean ran the grocery. Today the building is home to Mrs. Mutton’s Bottle Shop.

    If you’d like to read more stories about Melbourne’s past, follow me on Instagram @melbourne_ghostsigns.

    A column by Sean Reynolds. If you’d like to read more stories about Melbourne’s past, follow me on Instagram @melbourne_ghostsigns.

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