Getting to know Lior from Sweaters Australia

This month we caught up with Lior Gabizon from Sweaters Australia to discover how the shop started and what’s made it so popular for so many years.

How did Sweaters Australia begin?
Sweaters Australia started in 1974 with my father migrating to Australia. He was aware back then that Australia was known for its wool (and woollen products) and he decided that was the path he wanted to follow. Fast forward a few decades and me, my brother and father have earned our place as a leading supplier of premium-quality knitted garments worldwide.

Who is the Sweaters Australia customer?
We have a broad range of products catering for a broad range of customers including local corporate professionals, farmers, retirees as well as the broad range of tourists that visit our store or shop online with us.

I understand you’re a family business. Does this present any challenges?
I worked in wealth management for over 15 years and 5 years ago I decided to leave the corporate world and join my father in expanding this business. The first few years presented some challenges, but we now understand each other’s roles in the business, and we have the same vision: communication and respect are paramount.

Can you describe a typical day at work?
The fun starts at about 7:15am. I get to the Market and unload some inventory from the car and set up the stall. At 8:30am we are ready to trade. Dealing with customers from all around the globe and exchanging stories about different cultures is all part of a typical day’s work. Mixing with my neighbouring stallholders is also a great part of my day. There are a lot of great people in the Market which I have become friendly with, so having a laugh or a coffee with them can make the day pass a little faster.

Can you tell me what’s unique about your products? What materials do you use and why?

  1. Geccu Knits (formally Coogi Knits). These are the 3D multi coloured jumpers that are made on the most sophisticated computer knitting machines in the world. They’re also made using the finest quality Australian Merino wool to create unique, iconic and most complex patterns. We have been selling these garments since 1974, with my father often being referred to as “The Coogi Man”. We have local and international customers coming specifically to Queen Vic Market to buy these jumpers from us.
  2. McDonald Possum knits. This is a unique offering, as our possum knits are all natural fibres. Using a blend of possum fur, merino wool and mulberry silk, our knits do not use any synthetic materials, making them one of the best quality garments you will find in any store. This product is only available in Australia and New Zealand.
  3. Ansett knitwear which is very well know across Australia. It has been operating for 3 generations and has been carried in Myer, David Jones and many other retailers. Our customers know they can purchase these knits with confidence as they know the track record of the brand.

What’s the best/worst part of your job?
The best part of my job is dealing with people face to face and at the end of a transaction, making another customer happy, providing them with a quality product. The worst part is definitely the unpacking and packing up of the stall, but I just look at it like a free gym workout 🙂

What product is your best seller?
Our best-selling product is the fine merino wool, 3D knitwear. They are so sophisticated, such great quality and so well known for their originality around the world since the 1970s. We’re proud to be selling the original brand.

What do you like about Queen Vic Market?
I work at Queen Vic Market as well as shopping centers and the things I enjoy more about the Market is the open air environment, the mix of locals, interstate and international customers. I learn a lot from customers – you never know who you are talking to until you get into conversation. I find that the customers are often excited to ask about my life, my business and my history.

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