Kolinac’s Paint Store hands the brush to the third generation

Ivan Kolinac Junior (second from right) with resident dog, Zee, and (left to right) Tony Wheeler, Bronte Kolinac and Brian Kolinac at the family paint store. Photo credit: Nardia Keenan

Walls painted in Broken Hill in the 1950s by Ivan Kolinac Senior have still not flaked and the vintage mixer and the knowledge have now been handed to a third generation.

In 1982, Ivan Senior retired and passed Kolinac’s Paint Store and his acclaimed knowledge to Ivan Junior, who sold the business to his daughter, Bronte Kolinac, and her husband, Tony Wheeler, on January 1, 2020.

The couple had to buy the shop because it held so many family and community memories for Bronte, especially of a ritual involving the Silver Spade Hotel, which her relatives owned.

“It was a walk down from the Silver Spade to come and see Dad at the paint shop,” said Bronte.

“We’d call in and see Effie and Chris Prentos at the Annexe Fish Shop and order fish and chips.

“And then we’d come down here and do jobs and then we’d go down and see Mrs Celotto at the Palace and come back up again.”

The vintage mixing machine continues to turn for the tradies and home renovators who throng the shop, as Bronte and Tony mix paints to the exact shades and tones required.

Whilst some people are content to buy ready-mixed paint, Bronte and Tony share their astonishing knowledge of painting, including colour correction, and are still learning from Ivan Junior, who continues to work in the shop.

“We’ve got a long, long way before we can get to his standards,” said Tony.

“I’m learning every single day, still.”

The story of Kolinac’s Paint Store began when Ivan Senior was just six months old in Blato, Korčula, in former Jugoslavia, and his father perished in World War One.

Ivan Senior became a Legatee and was indentured as a ‘Painter and Decorator’ at the tender age of 12 and a half, when he left home for a five-year apprenticeship in Zagreb. He then trained for another four years as a journeyman.

Ivan Senior’s brother, Tony Kolinac, was working in the Broken Hill mines so Ivan Senior arrived in Sydney in 1938 with two mates, Andrew Kalajzich and Peter Nobilo.

Andrew remained in Sydney but Ivan Senior and Peter Nobilo journeyed to Broken Hill, where Ivan immediately started his painting and decorating business.

At a very early hour, Ivan Senior would load up his ‘Bullock’ bicycle with paint, planks and trestles and push it to work.

After five or six years of this labour, he bought his cherished Studebaker truck, followed by new work vehicles, and the bicycle was retired to the hooks in a garage.

Ivan Senior met Mary Martinovich in Broken Hill and they married and had five children – Ivan Junior, Kerry, Deidre, Brian and Kristine.

In 1943, Ivan Senior opened a paint shop in the front section of the Barrier Social Democratic Club (Demo Club) in Argent Street, where he traded for 10 years, selling Viking, then Davison, paints.

Because Ivan Senior was not naturalised, during World War Two he served with the Civil Construction Company in and around Sydney, where he was in charge of 100 to 120 fellow workers. Once the war was over, he returned to Broken Hill to continue plying his trade.

In 1958, Ivan Senior moved his business across the road, from the Demo Club to the current premises at 203 Argent Street.

“Dad bought the building when I was seven and we all had to work after school and on the weekends,” said Ivan Senior’s son, Brian Kolinac.

At one stage, Kolinac’s Paint Store had 34 employees but Ivan Senior was always looking ahead so he bought an old delicatessen out the south, opposite the Metropole Picture Theatre on South Street. He demolished the delicatessen and built three shops and a residence on the land.

In 1968, Ivan Senior purchased the Criterion Hotel and two adjacent blocks of land, where he built a motel to complement it.

Ivan Senior’s three sons, Ivan Junior, Kerry and Brian, all worked together in the paint store and hotels and acquired their trades in Painting and Decorating, specialising in the restoration of heritage buildings in the Decorative Division.

Ivan Junior and Kerry taught Painting and Decorating to apprentices at TAFE and Ivan Junior also taught Signwriting.

Kerry Kolinac also continued his family’s painting tradition and now has a large paint store in Morley in Perth.

After 64 years, Kolinac’s Paint Store is still trading at 203 Argent Street and Ivan Junior is pleased that Bronte and Tony have bought the shop.

“It keeps the business and the family tradition going,” he said.

For Bronte, the shop holds precious memories of all her family being together.
“Of the aunties and uncles and cousins that would come to the paint shop,” she said.

“They’d go from the Silver Spade, when they used to own that, and to the paint shop.

“And I couldn’t see it being let go.”

Kolinac’s Paint Store is at 203 Argent Street and offers colour matching, automobile paints, accessories, tools, lead-testing kits and more. It is open Mondays to Fridays between 9am and 5.30pm and Saturdays from 9am to 12.30pm.

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