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Sidney Myer

1878 – 1934

Sidney Myer (1878-1934), retail magnate and philanthropist, arrived in Melbourne in 1898 as a penniless Russian immigrant named Simca Baevski. He and his brother Elcon adopted the name Myer and worked briefly at a drapery store in Flinders Lane before moving to Bendigo, where they opened the first Myer store in 1900. The venture prospered, and they opened a second store in 1908. In 1911 Sidney Myer bought a drapery store in Bourke Street, Melbourne, along with a number of neighbouring properties. On this site he built a department store called the Myer Emporium, which introduced to Australia the bargain basement, the self-service cafeteria, motorised home deliveries, and other advanced selling techniques based on Myer's observations on frequent trips to the US and Europe. The business expanded to Adelaide and later across Australia. In 1920 he married Merlyn Baillieu, the daughter of an established Queenscliff family. Through the Depression Myer continued to expand and Sidney made generous contributions to cultural and charitable causes; for example, he gave $22,000 to provide work for unemployed married men on the Yarra Boulevard, and $8,000 to the Children's Hospital. Myer's sons Kenneth Baillieu (who died in 1992) and (Sidney) Baillieu have maintained the family's tradition of philanthropic generosity and the Myer family remain prominent contributors to Melbourne's civic and cultural life.

Updated 2018