The Christchurch branch of the Drapery Importing Company (DIC) began advertising its wares in 1885. The original building burnt down in 1908 and a new one reopened in 1909 (oh for such speed in rebuilding) and it continued operating successfully until 1978 when it merged with the next door Beaths (later Arthur Barnett.)
The DIC used to be one of the triumvirate of big department stores in Cashel Street, the others being Beaths and Ballantynes. My first memory of it as a child is of going into a gloomy high-ceilinged room that was the children’s department. It was all very Are You Being Served, except much darker. High on the shadowy walls, groovy 60s dresses in neon colours were displayed on mannequins. There was something strangely surreal about it.
In my last two years at school I got to see a different side of the building during a holiday job in the accounting department. Hidden from the public and emerging from behind the temporary divisions, I was surprised to see quite a fine building.
My farewell memory to the DIC was in an empty upstairs area of the building which was converted into a performance venue for the duration of an Arts Festival. Here the gloomy interior came into its own. It was the perfect cabaret location.
Following some rather timid local jazz musicians, Gareth Farr burst onto the stage as Lillith LeCroix in a flamboyant red dress and followed his drag act with a world class session of drumming. It was a memorable goodbye to a building which held a lot of memories.
Do you have any memories of the DIC building? Share them here.
- Search for the DIC on Papers Past