Our store first opened its doors in 1972 in Durban’s Beatrice Street and originally began as a shoe store that sold and repaired leather shoes for our customers. In the 1970s, the heart and soul of retail was found in Durban’s historic Grey Street and its surrounding avenues. Here you would find jewellers, barbers, tailors, shoemakers and other merchants at work, running their businesses that were passed down from one generation to the next.
Our store was small and run by my dad and mum. It was a classic “mum and pop” business and they both were equally involved in every decision and direction the store took, right down to the minor details. We lived in the flat directly above the store at the time. Combining their passion and commitment to grow the business, they soon expanded their leather range to include wallets, purses, handbags and suitcases.
Our first stand-alone luggage store opened its doors in the Victoria Street Market in 1990. By then we had phased off shoes and started carrying luggage and leather goods from quality, well-known brands. In 1992 we opened in what was formerly West Street, Durban’s premiere shopping street at the time. Three years later we opened a store at The Workshop.
Photos of our old stores taken in 1996. This was torn out of an old business proposal that we used to use to market our business to suppliers overseas
Over the years, the trend in retail started to take a change with the advent of shopping malls opening up. Soon, more and more people were starting to choose the convenience and multi-offering brought in by these new malls. Picking up on this trend from our customers, we next expanded our business at the end of 2000 by opening a store at The Pavilion, Durban’s biggest shopping complex back then. A year later, a super-regional mall that was going to mark the beginning of a new urban development opened in the midst of Durban’s sugar cane plantations. Not wanting to miss out on this exciting opportunity to expand towards the North of Durban, we opened a store at Gateway, Theatre of Shopping. In 2008, a branch at Westwood Mall was opened and now we had our foot firmly planted throughout Durban.
Our Pavilion store today with our Samsonite Concept Store
In 2012 I joined my parents’ business to help grow and expand their vision of offering the best retail experience to our customers in our industry. It takes a certain skill to make a retail business work and it takes passion to make a family business grow. I’ve learnt everything from my parents including this passion, their commitment they had and the constant importance of dedicating lots of hours to thrive in a tough environment. That is the same formula that has brought Gopal’s Bags & Luggage to where it is today. As we grew, our customers grew with us and so did our legacy. Where to next?