Gladys Sym Choon

People of Adelaide

Suffrage gladys sym choon migration museum pn05626 mei ling niel

Gladys Sym Choon (1905-1991), businesswoman, was born in Adelaide to immigrants from the Guangdong province in southern China.

She studied bookkeeping at Adelaide High School. Aged 18, Sym Choon opened the China Gift Store at 235A Rundle Street, Adelaide in 1924 with her sister Dorothy. The popular business sold luxury goods to wealthy clientele, including fabric, lingerie and decorative china.

Sym Choon was the first woman in South Australia to incorporate a business, and to import goods, making frequent trips to China and Hong Kong. She expanded the business to Regent Arcade during the 1930s-1950s. Sym Choon married Edward (Teddy) Chung Gon in 1939 and relocated to Tasmania, placing her businesses in the hands of managers, but visiting Adelaide regularly.

The China Gift Store operated until 1985 when she sold it to Joff Chappel and Razak Mohammed, who named their boutique ‘Miss Gladys Sym Choon’ to celebrate this East End icon.

Celebrating 125 years of women's suffrage in South Australia.

Image: Migration Museum, PN05626, Mei Ling Niel photographer