Barrow and Bench Mitre10 – Proud to Celebrate 40 Years in Business

In 1978 the average home in Adelaide cost around $20,000; home owners were likely mowing their lawn in shorts and long socks (now that’s a vision to behold!), and Unley Road hardware institution, Barrow and Bench first opened its doors.

Forty years later, you will find the third generation of our family providing the same friendly service the store has always been known for - without of course, the long socks and shorts.  Now owned and operated by the second generation of the Stewart family, Unley residents are in good hands at our award winning, nationally accredited store.

We are enormously proud of the fact that in the ever-changing world of retail, corporate conglomerates and online shopping, we continue to offer local residents, businesses and community groups, a thoroughly modern shopping experience.   As we celebrate 40 years in business, we’ve had a huge amount of fun looking back through the decades.  Who would have thought that we once bagged our own nails (that was Paul’s after school job); that we would close the store for two consecutive days to undertake stocktake, or that we traded just 5 ½ days a week. In the modern world of longer trading, our doors are now open a whopping 75 hours a week over 7 days, closing only on Christmas Day and Good Friday.   

In the 1970s the family BBQ we sold was most likely round with three legs; there’s every chance you carried it in the boot of your car to family picnics, and amazingly it cost you under $15.00 to buy.  These days home owners are likely to own a family WeberQ which they love and adore, but it never travels in the back of your car, and its cost is a whopping $700 in comparison. 

From humble beginnings, it’s satisfying to know that some things have stayed the same.  You will still find us helping locals with their home renovation jobs, garden and DIY projects.  We remain of course, a proudly family owned South Australian business, and we are as committed as ever to making sure we make a difference in our community.  We continue to work closely with local groups, and most weekends you will find service clubs, sporting clubs, or schools serving a sausage or two … all of which makes us enormously proud to be part of the Unley Road family, and glad to be working in such a wonderful community. 

These days the store is owned by Paul and Amanda Stewart, but that hasn’t always been the case.  Paul’s father Ian made the move from a stellar career in the commercial building industry to became a small business owner with the opening of the store in 1978.   The shop was established on the site of the old Ampol Service station (corner of Fisher Street and Unley Road).  Under the ownership of the Stewart and Coote families the business first traded as a Big H store, later joining the Mitre 10 brand.   By all accounts, the first day’s trading was slow by modern standards.  Apparently, the weather gods weren’t kind, and it rained all day which made for the challenging job of constant mopping up after a very leaky roof  

Ian was a progressive business man.  His attention to detail, his drive to always do his best, and his commitment to the local community were well known, and strongly evident during the time he ran the business.  His professionalism and commitment to the Mitre10 brand was respected by both customers, and by hardware executives alike, with the well presented store regularly winning awards, and Ian becoming a Board Member (1982-1996), and subsequently Chairman of the Board (1986-1990) of Mitre10 SA.

Here’s a snapshot of our time on Unley Road:

  • 1978 Barrow and Bench hardware store is officially opened by Justice Robin Millhouse MP at 277 Unley Road Malvern (formerly the site of the Ampol service station)  The store is owned by the Stewart and Coote families.
  • The name Barrow and Bench, and the logo, is developed to depict the range of services and products offered to consumers (coincidentally, and rather a nice connection we think, the first Mayor of Unley was Mr John Barrow (1871-72) 
  • 1981 the store extended the range of building supplies it offered to local DIY customers and tradespeople
  • August 1982 the store joined the Mitre10 group, becoming known as Barrow & Bench Mitre10.
  • August 1984 the Marj and Ian Stewart became the sole proprietors of the business.
  • 1999 the store moved to 321 Unley Road, Malvern (formerly the Fairway Ford Dealership).  Substantial renovations and extensions were undertaken on the building before the store began trading at its new site.
    • Interestingly for local history buffs, the current site was granted to one of Unley’s greatest benefactors, Edmund Trimmer in 1836 and remained as paddocks until it was sold off in 1882 following his death.  At this time it was subdivided and the land had spec homes built on it.  In 1966 the four homes were demolished to make way for a Ford Car Dealership
  • In 2013 Paul and Amanda Stewart purchased the business (Paul had been managing the store for the past 10 years). 
  • We became accredited under the national AGCAS Scheme (Australian Garden Centre Accreditation Scheme) in 2014.
  • The store and its staff have been the recipient of many awards in the past forty years, most recently being awarded Best Mitre10 Garden Centre in Australia 2017 and Best Small Business on Unley Road 2017

We are are proud to continue the legacy left by Ian and Marj.  We remain actively involved in supporting our local community, in particular the Unley Salvation Army, the Rosefield Community Shed; along with the many local schools, sporting clubs, and community organisations such as the Rotary Club of Unley.   Paul, a ‘chippy’ by trade, has worked closely with the City of Unley in establishing the Little Libraries project, and sits on the board of Hardware Australia.  Amanda who has horticulture and landscape design qualifications, has assisted on two seasons of reality TV Series The Block; sits on the Board of the Nursery and Garden Industry of SA, is a founding committee member of Women in Hardware, and is actively involved in assisting with Mitre10’s involvement in Channel 9 lifestyle program, Outdoors Indoors.  We are both keen supporters of the Mitre10 brand and remain committed to ensuring our store remains relevant to the modern consumer.  In the changing world of retail, a strong focus on service, convenience and quality remain at the forefront of what we do.  Be sure to come and say hello to us when you are next in store  we’d love to see you.


Paul and Amanda Stewart


Barrow & Bench - Best Mitre10 Garden Centre in Australia

We are absolutely thrilled to be awarded National Garden Centre of the Year across the Independent Hardware Group  (this encompasses all Mitre10, Home Timber and Hardware, Thrifty Link and True Value stores).  

It goes without saying, we are humbled indeed to be awarded Best Garden Centre in Australia! It's an incredible honour, and one we are very proud to receive.  

A huge thank you to our wonderful customers - we are here to serve you, and we thank you sincerely for not only shopping with us and supporting our family owned business, but in many cases becoming part of the B&B family.  We love hearing about your gardens  - the things you've planted that have been a great success, and those that haven't been quite so good.   We enjoy helping you get the most from your garden and outdoor living spaces; and we love nothing more then helping you find the right plant for your situation.  

We thank our amazing suppliers who grow the plants which fill the homes of our customers and supply the goods with which to support those plants and keep them looking amazing!    

And we thank our wonderful and knowledgeable staff who work so hard to bring you the beautiful place that is our garden centre.  We are grateful for the synergy and fabulous collaborative effort that makes our garden centre what it is.  If you've not been in to the store, do pop by and say hello.  We would love to see you.  

2017 Award Winners

Our store, which is nearing it's 40th year of trading, was thrilled to win two significant awards recently. 

At the Independent Hardware Group State Awards, we were honoured to be awarded Best Garden Centre for the second year in a row.    If you've not been in to see our garden centre and the wonderful ambience we've created on Unley Road, then do be sure to pop in and see what all the fuss is about.  We pride ourselves on offering quality plants and qualified advice.  All our garden staff have horticultural experience and qualifications, and of course, a love of gardens.  They work hard to bring you the best mix of seasonal plants, pots, potting mixes, mulches and pest control measures available, and we think they do a great job.    Their skills are complimented by the fabulous plants we stock, many of which are grown locally here in South Australia; and by our wonderful customers who fill their homes and their gardens with the flowers, fruits and vegetable plants we sell.  

At a separate event Barrow and Bench was honoured, and indeed humbled, to be awarded Best Small Business on Unley Road at the Unley Road Association Pride of Workmanship Awards.   It goes without saying that we love our Unley Road community.  We feel fortunate to own and operate a small business on Unley Road, and value the support of the Unley Road Association; that of fellow traders, and most importantly the support of the Unley community.  We are honoured to help people with their DIY projects; their gardens and in their homes.  We love to hear the stories of our customers, and pride ourselves in helping them find the right solution for their circumstance. 

Most of all, we are proud to assist others in our local community.  It is the connections we’ve made with local community groups such as the Rosefield Community Shed, the Unley Salvation Army, and with local schools and sporting groups which we value the most.

We hope we can continue to serve Unley with pride and with professionalism for many years to come.   


Winners: NGISA Hardware Garden Centre of the Year Award

We have been honoured indeed this year, receiving a third award for our garden centre recently, when we were awarded Nursery and Garden Industry SA Hardware Garden Centre of the Year Award.    The Nursery and Garden Industry SA (NGISA) work hard to advocate for, support and promote companies involved in the nursery and garden industry.  We are proud to be recognised by this association, and by our peers.   

Winners: Hardware Association Store of the Year & Garden Centre of the Year

We were honoured to receive two awards at the HASA (Hardware Association of SA) Awards 2016-17.

- Retail Store of the Year (Medium Format)

- Garden Centre of the Year.

We have a fabulous team who work tirelessly to bring you quality products along with great advice for all your home and garden needs.   A huge thank you to our team, to our growers and suppliers, and to our lovely customers who shop with us. We appreciate your support, and are so grateful that you shop with our family owned business.

Winners: SA Mitre10 Garden Centre of the Year

Barrow and Bench was thrilled to be awarded the inaugural South Australian Mitre10 Garden Centre of the Year Award for 2016.   Our fabulous garden centre would not be what it is without our wonderful customers, many of whom travel long distances to shop with us; our fabulous suppliers who grow the quality plants which fill your homes and gardens, and our talented and dedicated garden staff who serve you each and every day.    South Australia is home to some quality Mitre10 Garden Centres, and we are honoured to receive this award.  

Unley Road Small Business Awards

Barrow and Bench was honoured to be recognised as one of 3 finalists in the Unley Road Small Business Awards. The award was won by the wonderful people at Vino Ristorante. Fabulous to be recognised amongst our peers; to spend some time with the traders of Unley Road, and South Australia's Small Business Commissioner, John Chapman.

Award Winning Garden Centre

Barrow and Bench was honoured to be awarded 'Garden Centre of the Year' 2015/16 by the Hardware Assocation of South Australia, and 'Hardware Garden Centre of the Year' 2015/16 by the Nursery and Garden Industry of South Australia (NGISA).

If you've not been into our garden centre before, be sure to pop in and have a browse amongst our carefully selected range of plants and gardenware.  We know you will be impressed by the fabulous range, the quality of our stock, and our knowledgeable and friendly staff.