During the late 1890’s, the young and energetic Ismail Dockrat set foot on African soil after braving the long journey across the Indian Ocean. Seeking a better life here, he initially worked as a labourer toiling lush sugar plantations but with an inherited finance brain and entrepreneurial spirit, Ismail began hawking from farm to farm, eventually settling his family in Pretoria North.
Ismail’s son, Suleiman steered their informal trade towards groceries and Dutch medicines, a clever initiative which relied on his ‘fundi’ mum’s remedies as well as the elderly Afrikaans ladies in the community who sought advice to cure their ailments. “Solomons” – the easier pronunciation for clientele who found his Arabic name challenging - was signed above Suleiman’s first store, a small space on Gerrit Maritz Street which now contains their mind-blowing multi-brand shoe department.
Large supermarkets began sprouting up around town making it increasingly difficult for Suleiman to trade competitively, and so at a ripe old age, he made the brave decision to venture into apparel instead. Strict Apartheid laws prevented the Dockrat family from unlocking their doors but several court cases later, they celebrated an official trading license – sadly, this triumph was only realised days after Suleiman’s death.
It was ‘business as usual’ throughout the peak of The Group Areas Act because the government had not found a large enough site to relocate Solomons – a silver lining which allowed them to trade in the predominantly white community until democracy reigned.
Solomons’ now sits in the capable hands of Suleiman’s grandson, Shafee Dockrat, who first entered the family business in 1985 at the tender age of 23. With a love for acquiring property, Shafee is dedicated to growing the ‘Solomons’ legacy and has already expanded to 5 other stores located around Pretoria and Johannesburg. Thanks to a travel-bug bite and tasteful personal style, he gives careful consideration to the range of top quality local and imported fashion & décor labels stocked which promise to brand your world for less.