The Brotherhood of St Laurence was founded in 1930 by Melbourne-born Father Gerard Kennedy Tucker whose vision was to serve the community and help disadvantaged Australians.
In 1933, the Brotherhood moved to St Mary's Mission in Fitzroy with the aim of helping the disadvantaged in that neighbourhood and became a driving force during the Great Depression, assisting the unemployed and homeless by providing shelter and food.
The first Brotherhood store was opened in the 1930s on Fitzroy's now very hip Gertrude Street, its aim to recycle large quantities of clothing and furniture for people in need. Volunteers at the Brotherhood would sort clothes and other second hand items and prepare them for sale. Soon after, other stores opened, including at Carrum Downs.
In 1941, Father Tucker opened a store at number 49 Royal Arcade – a heritage listed shopping arcade constructed in 1869 – in the heart of Melbourne's city, with an office upstairs. This store sold donated articles and hand-made goods from friends of the organisation.
Today, the Royal Arcade building with its renaissance revival-style architecture is home to Hunter Gatherer, our vintage clothing store. Named one of Melbourne's "best kept shopping secrets" in the Herald Sun, Hunter Gatherer sells quality vintage items hand-picked from the thousands of donations received each year.
While a lot has changed since the 1930s, the Brotherhood's vision remains the same: working towards an Australia free of poverty. When you make a purchase from one of our stores, you're not just recycling and finding a great vintage piece, you're also helping to raise funds to support Australians that need it most.
The Brotherhood currently operates 20 Community Stores across Greater Melbourne, including two Hunter Gatherer stores, with a new op shop in Hoppers Crossing due to open later in 2014.
For information on how to volunteer at the new store in Hoppers Crossing, visit the Brotherhood volunteer webpage »