In a state that averages over several inches of rain in some places, it’s no wonder that one of the oldest businesses in Tasmania specializes in umbrellas.
The Old Umbrella Shop in Launceston has been operating nearly continuously in its current location for over 100 years. Originally established as R. Schott & Son, the shop was opened by Robert Schott, an umbrella maker from Melbourne in 1907.
Although umbrellas were his specialty, Schott began crafting souvenirs after being dismayed by the number of tourists he saw purchasing European-made, mass-produced items that didn’t represent his home. He whittled woodcrafts out of local timber and emblazoned ceramic items with images of Tasmania, selling them alongside his hand-made umbrellas. Business flourished as tourists caught wind of Schott’s beautiful, affordable souvenirs, which included items such as ashtrays, egg cups, walking sticks, and clocks. So popular were Schott’s souvenirs that when Edward VIII, Prince of Wales, visited Tasmania in 1920, Schott presented him with one of his walking sticks.
R. Schott & Son was run by three generations of the Schott family until 1978, when the last descendant, John William Robert Schott, passed away. After a brief closure, the shop was taken over by the National Trust of Australia and renamed The Old Umbrella Shop.
The shop contains most of its original fixtures and continues to operate as an umbrella and souvenir shop. In the backroom is a museum that displays a collection of Schott’s wares, as well as business memorabilia.
Know Before You Go
The Old Umbrella Shop is open 6 days a week, from Monday–Friday, 9 am–5 pm, and Saturday, 9 am–12 pm.
Admission to the museum is free.