The concept of home delivery was fairly common in the 1900’s with bakers, grocers and butchers each delivering goods to your doorstep.
However, Barossa local, Collin Kroshel (1921 – 2017), took this idea to another level with his dream of creating a mobile store to serve the needs of the local community.
After serving the RAAF as an aircraft mechanic during WWII, Collin became a domestic broom and brush salesman.
In October 1948, Collin purchased a Bedford bus chassis from E. Schrapel & Sons at Tanunda after realising that his mechanical skills and travelling salesman experience could be put to good use.
In April, 1949 he used the machinery at Schrapel’s workshop to start construction.
Aluminium sheet was screwed to a tubular steel frame to form the body of the vehicle, with the interior insulated and then covered with Masonite.
The front panel, which included the windscreen and side windows, was completed in Adelaide.
The van was driven to Collin’s home at Ebenezer to finish the interior with help from his father-in-law, Alf Maywald, a local carpenter and cabinetmaker.
The mobile store was painted by Collin, and a signwriter was engaged to add the finishing touches.
By early 1950 the glass cabinets and shelves were fully loaded with all manner of groceries, medicines, clothing, haberdashery, footwear, hardware and even a rack of seed packets.
Butter and other foods needing refrigeration were stored in an ice-chest, cooled by large blocks of ice purchased from Appelt’s ice making facility in Nuriootpa.
The van had two skylights with additional lighting for dull days, and two small fans for the hot weather.
Kroshel’s Mobile Store called on regular customers in Nuriootpa on a weekly basis, with surrounding areas up to 15km away being visited fortnightly.
The Bedford clocked up 100,000 miles (160,000km) during almost 30 years of trading.
The Mobile Store was given to the Birdwood Motor Museum, but unfortunately is not on public display.
The early success of the mobile venture led Collin and his wife, Edith to open ‘Kroshel’s Barossa Store’ at 36 Fifth Street, Nuriootpa on September 11, 1953.
Many early stores bought goods in bulk.
Grocery lines such as flour, sugar and rice were then packed into small paper bags, while kerosene and methylated spirits were decantated from drums into paper labelled bottles.
For several decades Kroshel’s Barossa Store served as a convenient and friendly shop for people living in that part of Nuriootpa but was then sold in 1980 to Ken and Fay Prosser.
“Collin Kroshel’s shop was part of our community.
“Every Christmas he would hold a Christmas party at around 6pm in late December, and give out ice-creams, printed pencils with ‘Kroshel’s Serv-Wel Store’, lots of soft drinks and lollies.
“Max Kuchel’s son would deliver Father Christmas to the shop front, and you can guess who Father Christmas was! The well-rounded Collin Kroshel. A very well respected and kind man.”
(Memories from Steve Hausler, as a child living in Fifth Street, Nuriootpa, 1960s/early 1970s.)