Hudson's Hardware Store operated at the Spencer Street end of Bourke Street from the 1920s until the 1980s, relocating to new premises in Richmond. The Bourke Street premises were originally built in 1876 as an ironmongery and hardware store for the firm McLean Brothers and Rigg. It was strategically located near the Spencer Street Railway Yards, and specialised in agricultural equipment.
By the 1920s, when it was taken over by the Pearse family, headed by Anthony Pearse, it was catering to both urban and rural markets. This is shown by the 1940s catalogues, which list stoves, baths, wash basins and stylish leather coats alongside cow rugs, horse blankets, sheep shearing equipment and blacksmith's supplies. The 1941 Tent and Camping Equipment catalogue lists both beach or lawn umbrellas, window blinds and 'auto' tents (yes, a tent for your car) alongside haystack covers.
Hudson's Hardware Store was a typical example of the industrial stores which populated the western region of the Melbourne CBD until the later years of the 20th century, contrasting with the department stores, boutiques and specialty shops of the central and eastern regions. The rise of the branded hardware stores (such as Bunnings, Home Hardware and Mitre 10) in the 1970s and 1980s saw a corresponding decrease in the number of smaller hardware stores, as their market share fell. In a response to this, Hudson's moved to cheaper premises in Highett Street, Richmond in the 1980s. The Bourke Street premises are now listed on the Register of the National Estate.