During the 61 years since it has been established in Ruthven Street, Hannas family department store has grown into a Toowoomba institution.

A third generation clothing and homewares retailer, Hannas services a large area of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Occupying almost a hectare of floor space, Hannas stocks a wide range of menswear, women’s wear, lingerie, footwear, manchester, haberdashery, school wear, work uniforms, equestrian and racing gear, curtains and soft furnishings. It is also one of the nation’s largest stockists of Akubra hats, and has one of the country’s biggest turnovers of Levi jeans, RM Williams products and King Gee work wear, according to Anthony Hanna.

After a year at Cooreys, the Hannas settled in Toowoomba where Norman began selling fruit and vegetables around town from a horsedrawn cart. He had far from an auspicious start when on his first day the only sale was a cucumber for sixpence.

Undaunted, he pressed on and by 1946 was able to buy a red Bedford truck which he drove on a three-month circuit, which rotated through Crows Nest, Bowenville, Pittsworth, Felton and Gatton districts. In those days, the roads were little more than tracks so Norman often camped on properties overnight while touring the region to provide a highly valued shopping opportunity for farmers, their wives and family.

With the success of his country run, on September 26, 1956, Norman was able to open the doors at 565 Ruthven Street and in 1967 he bought Cooreys from his brother.

Both businesses continued to grow and in 1989 the Tourist Service Station and RG Wilson’s caryard were purchased to enable expansion of the Toowoomba store.

When Norman passed away in 1998, aged 83, he had 10 children — Joseph, John, Margaret, Joan, Michael, Elizabeth, James, Dianne, Anthony and David — 35 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

As the 21st Century is unfolding, Hannas, under the management of Anthony with his brothers John and Jim involved, is continually introducing new lines to maintain its ongoing success.

“We sold Cooreys in 2004 when our brother Joe became ill and now we are looking forward to the next generation coming into Hannas in Toowoomba,” Anthony says. “John’s son Paul has been in the business for a while and my son Michael has just come on board. We are all facing a new challenge with all the recent developments taking place in Toowoomba, but so far so good.”

That is important because along the way, the company has become a valuable contributor to the community through generous donations to churches, charities, hospitals, schools and sporting organisations.