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October 2006

Retailer showcase:

Reasons for their success

  • The business is familly-run and has been in the area for many years. They therefore know their customers very well and their customers know them very well.

  • A high level of personal service proven over many years.

  • The quality of dedicated and loyal assistants. For instance, Mohamed, department head of fishing, Gloria, well-known to all customers and Adam, the manager of Slomon’s Gifts for more than 40 years, together have more than a 100 years of service in Solomons.

  • They carry a large range of stock — more than 30000 line items. Yet, their policy is that if they don’t have it in stock, they will get it for their customer.

  • Competitive prices.

  • They provide extra services like cycle repairs, gas refilling, watch repars and backup service.

  • Providing easy access in the form of parking

  • Solomons — Part of our heritage

    Solomons is a Pretoria landmark. NICOL DU TOIT traces their history

    For over 90 years the Dockrat family have been trading in the Pretoria North community. The original business, which started as a small grocery and general dealer store, has grown to become a specialist department store, specializing in sporting goods, apparel, shoes, appliances, camping and fishing, electronics, lighting, jewellery, gifts and cycling. Today the shop is spread over two buildings - Solomons Family Outfitters and Solomons Gifts.

    The Dockrat’s great grandfather, Ismail Dockrat began as a "smous", early in the 1900’s, visiting farms and plots in the surrounding area. Credit was the order of the day, and farmers would actually reserve a wall in their homes for notes to be made for outstanding balances.

    Ismail had two sons and a daughter. He originally started his business close to the station in Pretoria North and when his daughter married he opened a new shop for her in Gerrit Maritz Street where the current shop stands. Tragically the daughter passed away and the son in law went back to India. Young Suliman Dockrat, the son, then joined the business and ran the business between playing with his young friends outside. The Afrikaans speaking community had a problem pronouncing Suliman and called him Solomon. The name stuck.

    The roof of the shop was painted blue and customers often referred to it as "Die Blou Winkel". In those days most of the business was groceries and deliveries were made by horse or donkey cart. In the fifties the Group Areas Act took its toll, and when Suliman tried to open his second shop, filled with goods and ready to trade, the municipality refused a trading licence. Suliman Dockrat passed away before a legal battle finally allowed him to open the new store. Suliman had 11 children. Today still two of them, Essop (Boetie) Dockrat and Ahmed Dockrat, are still actively involved in the clothing store and the gift shop respectively.

    In1994 the old "Blou Winkel" was demolished to make way for the new Solomon’s gifts. The general dealer shop was transformed into a specialist department store, specializing in gas appliances, jewellery, lighting, electronics, gifts, fishing, camping and cycling. In 2000 a professional cycling division was added despite resistance from both suppliers and retailers. In October 2005 they obtained the distributorship for Wheeler Cycles and cycling has developed into one of the bigger departments in Solomons Gifts.

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