Despite the men’s objections, the sisters opened a store in the front of their tent selling tea, coffee, sugar, candles, tobacco, jam, bottled fruit, cheese, dress materials and baby clothes. Margaret and her sister were very proud of their store which, unlike many others on the diggings, did not sell sly grog.
They were required to pay £40 ($80) a year for a storekeeper’s licence. Martha continued to run the store until 1855, when competition forced her to close, by which time her husband was also able to support the family and attitudes towards middle class women in business were changing as Ballarat became more settled.
Middle class women were expected to be wives and mothers - not business women!