Melbourne's first department store, the large Mutual Store emporium was located on the corner of Flinders and Degraves streets. The company, established as a profit-sharing co-operative between shareholders and staff, was incorporated in 1872 but suffered a significant setback when fire destroyed the original building in 1891. Architects Reed, Smart & Tappin, who had designed the Melbourne Town Hall and the Royal Exhibition Building, designed a new building in the Mannerist style on the same site.
Despite the interruption, the company thrived and within a year of rebuilding, its range of products filled a catalogue of over 40 pages. In 1961 the Mutual Store was taken over by Peter Kaye Consolidated Ltd, which changed its name to Mutual Stores Holdings Ltd. Three years later Cleckheaton Ltd (Yorkshire) took over the company and closed the department store in 1965. After being home for almost 40 years to the Council of Adult Education, the building was converted into apartments. The Mutual Stores Ltd collection is held at the University of Melbourne Archives.