Sunday, December 20, 2009

Salvation Army Op-Shop, Bourke St, Melbourne

The Salvos in Bourke St, Melbourne is relocating and closing down. It’s closing down so soon (Christmas Eve, 2009) you may read this post and all the second hand items may have already been shipped off and recycled to other stores across Melbourne.

It's one of those rare op-shops on a main rd in central Melbourne, and the facade is now obscured by scaffolding and plaster board.

It’s impeccably organised across two levels in a narrow space towards the Spring St end of Bourke St. Everything is 50% off until closing, and it does have that empty half-lived in feel of a house that is being moved out of.

There are some ok pieces amongst the clothes and plenty of basic shirts, slacks and pants. I liked a narrow, sleeveless dress that was crocheted in multi-coloured fibres, there were also a couple of sparkly shift dresses and a cream, transparent baby doll top with crepe rosettes around the scooped collar.

There were some interesting shoes in an alcove, towards the back wall of the lower floor. Leather pumps with little gold studs across the top of the foot, camel mary-janes with cork heels and white-peep toe heels with brass sequins stood out in a well put together collection of vintage shoes and lace-up boots.

Heavy suit jackets, boot-leg jeans, shorts, bright button up shirts and a lycra marcel morceau one-piece rounded out what was left of the half-priced clothes.

Upstairs had been almost emptied. The shelves of homewares were half-bare but there was a gorgeous floral serving tray with little porcelain cups and a milk jug from the same pattern. There was a big, but diminishing collection of cookbooks, novels, sports books and children’s books in wide bookshelves along the back wall.

Not an outstanding collection, but a few good items and books amongst the thinning collection. The half-priced items make an already reasonably priced collection, even more reasonable. The shop does close at the end of the day on the 24th of December (Thursday.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yooralla Carlton Bargain Shop

It's big wide windows, facing out into Elgin St, Carlton, are crowded with old electrical appliances, dvds, vhs tapes, vases and grand fur coats. The jumble is a fitting precursor to the grungy op-shop inside.

It's a big, mostly flat shop with old wooden ceilings. There is a bit to sort through and the collection of secondhand items is pretty diverse. While there was a lack of incredible vintage finds, there were some really cheap, functional pieces. Men's and Women's pants, jeans, slacks and trousers were $5. I liked a pair of seem-less navy slacks with no buttons or hooks but wide flares at the heel.

T-shirts were $3, and they could be ripped, cut or modified with embellishments or into mid-rift tops (think American Apparel.) There was an eclectic jumble of dresses, I'm all for wearing nightwear as evening or day wear, especially if its a beautifully well made as this cream nightdresses cut from a ruched stretchy material, with fringing around the curve of the hip and sheer, long white sleeves.

The other dresses were plainer and had simple cuts. But some chunky 80s jackets in neon pink and blue and impressive shoulder-pads rounded off the collection. Despite the low-key display, the shoe collection was inspiring. Highlights we flats with round metallic toes, little burgundy heels with laces and a bright green instep and navy, slip-on ankle boots.

Scattered through-out the shop is a big collection of miscellaneous items. Cutlery, glass-wear, vhs video tapes (including the entire die-hard movie collection), boxes of records and cds, cricket jumpers, thermos flasks, handbags and an old clock radio - Like an elephant graveyard, its where electrical equipment from the 80s and 90s goes to die (and possibly be reborn?)

Oddball highlight were two George Foreman grills, from $30, they looked about 10 years old (judging by the picture on the box) and seemed to be in good condition.

FINAL WORD - Lots of secondhand clothes and items, its a little overwhelming. A couple of top of the notch finds (shoes and jackets the best) and scores of random electronic artifacts from the 80s and 90s. Also the place to go for second-hand Christmas decorations.

where is it? 134-136 Elgin St, Carlton
how do i get there? Catch the no.1 and no.8 tram to the intersection of Elgin and Lygon St
will i have to wait for a change room? there are 2
whats on the stereo? No music on the stereo :(
i'm hungry? there is a fantastic sushi shop I'd almost recommend to anyone a couple of stores up on Elgin street towards Lygon.

Emils Shoe Repairs, Windsor

Yes, I know it's an unlikely title for a vintage shop, but Emils shoes at the Windsor end of Chapel St has an impressive display of second hand boots and shoes.

Doc Martens are being embraced again as fashion from the nineties is coming back. An older, worn pair of docs has more appeal than a shiny new pair. In it's sidewalk collection, Emils' have docs with covered in craft glitter, coloured laces, scuff and texta marks and blue and snakeskin material.

There are chunky ankle boots and blundstones (for men and women) with and without laces, and cowboy boots with reinforced toes and elaborate carved patterns from the foot to calf.

Emils does have a substantial collection of new shoes, which are displayed inside the store. The rows are vintage shoes are on tiered racks on the sidewalk and are a worthy, but expensive (a pair of second-hand docs will set you back $95 minimum.

In the window were a pair of Bally pumps with a white leather around the side and heel of the foot, bleeding into a beige material around the toe. There were also a pair of little leather ankle boots, the leather was so soft it looked like felt.

excellent range of vintage footwear, but it will hurt price wise!

where is it? 153 Chapel St, Windsor
how do I get there? catch the Sandringham train to Windsor station, walk on the same side as the station, down chapel street towards High St rd.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Josie's Opportunity Shop, Balaclava

Josie’s is a Carlisle St cultural institution. It’s not pristine and it’s not particularly “vintagey”. In fact it’s utterly disorganised and cluttered, but it’s charming and a clash of old world, kitsch and the 80s.

“Josie,” I assume is the upfront brunette lady at the counter. She and another rather sweet lady with a blue rinse discuss the best kosher butcher on Carlisle St, while people swing in and out of the shop on the main strip of Balaclava.

Piles of objects (plates, statues, knitting needles, pots, vases etc) swell around a few racks of clothes. At the rear of the shop, I found an old-fashioned bill and letter holder, with rusty hooks and faded gold lettering on top of a pile of old comics and knitting magazines.

It’s an eclectic collection, there are heavy men’s coats and trenches with wide belts and brass buckles and leather pumps from the eighties made from soft leather and vinyl.

The highlight was the beautiful selection of jackets made from Italian leather in brown, black and suede. They had different lengths and textures, I admired this black leather jacket with thick tubing around the collar and lapels. Knotted around the front counter were those patterned silk scarfs and a couple of faux fur wraps.

There were plenty of tight alcoves in the shop and bags, shoes and accessories seemed to overrun every spare inch of shelf space. I wasn’t overwhelmed by most of the items in Josie’s but there were some unique and fascinating pieces in you’re patient enough to sort through the jumble.

Josie’s had a great collection of jackets and skirts from some Australian designers that were big in womens wear in the 80s. Picture bright, coarse fabrics, shoulder-pads, sparkles and opaque buttons on coloured lapels.

Josie’s Opportunity Shop is messy, but a must on Carlisle St. Also, most of the prices are set (and good value) but you can haggle on some of the smaller pieces.

where is it? 255 Carlisle St, Balaclava
how do i get there? Take the Sandringham train to Balaclava station or the no.16 Tram to Kew (via Acland St)
will i have to wait for a change room? there are 2
whats on the stereo? No music and plenty of silence
i'm hungry? you can't go past Glicks for bagels on 330 Carlisle St, Argie Bargys is also worth a go, especially for it's inventive pizza menu.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

hardrubbish and nana vintage

Essentially, I'm not sure if you can classify things you find in hard rubbish or items given to you by your Nana as "vintage," but there is certainly a generous dosage of secondhand somewhere.

Someone stacked some old stereos near the wheelie bins at the back of my flat, this was my favourite:

The screen has been removed and the speakers have been exposed. There is no cord and it doesn't work or connect to anything. But I like the circular patterns around the speakers, and it often doubles as a stand for my towel, bike helmet and glass of water.


These items below were given to me by my Nana when I went for dinner and a game of cards. Nana's and relatives are an untapped source of great old clothes and vintage pieces.

I love the sheer top with a white pattern overlay (on the left) and violently colourful bomber jacket with the MC hammer feel.

Salvation Army Op Shop, Balaclava

This is a new location for the Salvation Army Op Shop in Balaclava. It's a big space in a converted garage, facing the St Kilda Town Hall on busy Carlisle St. The old store was on the corner of Inkerman St and Brighton Rd.

At 4am (I used to drive to work early) all sorts of street workers and fringe dwellers congregated around the old store and it was the "sidewalk epicenter" of dumped clothes and furniture in St Kilda.

The Salvos and the army of volunteers who run the op-shop have done a fantastic job, making the most of the warm, bright space and a huge collection of clothes, shoes, bags, home-wear, furniture and other second-hand items. There is plenty of stock, and it's been well separated to make browsing easy.

The "garage" style space (an industrial roller door has been converted into the changing rooms) is divided into two, open spaces. What I would describe as the "high-end" recycled clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery surrounds the counter. The dress collection is unique, a great juxtaposition of pattern, texture and style. I loved this calf-length black dress that had gathered shoulder-pads, embroidered shoulders and back and Grecian style draping on the front.

Designer clothing is well constructed, but it can be very plain. There was an extensive collection of trousers, jeans and jackets from designers like Prada, Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger and Valentino (the Valentino was a pair of white jeans.) The slouchy Prada pants (a light camel colour) had some stains around the legs, but were in excellent condition.

I admired a multi-coloured, Chanel-style jacket from Perri Cutten and a white linen jacket from John Cavill. There was a great sense of colour-coding and organisation. The shoes had been separated into different colours and matched with similar coloured hats and hair accessories. Amongst an average bag collection, there were these old fashioned purses with brass tops that clipped together and long shoulder-straps.

I browsed for an hour, carefully combing over the entire store. The other section of the op-shop feels more like a warehouse. The collection of chunky knits and slender cardigans was unseasonal, but impressive.

It was a jumble in the home wear section, like a Sunday garage sale with piles of cutlery, plates, glass wear and other miscellaneous items piled on top of each other. Cool salt and pepper shakers made from plastic a Vladimir Lenin were the highlight of a haphazard collection.

There was an impressive selection of business wear and men's ankle boots, complimented by a great tuxedo suit with a satin lining on the collar. Mattresses, nightwear, bras, books and a colourful children's wear and toys section rounded out a thoroughly diverse collection.

The prices were reasonable, though a little more expensive than I have encountered in some other Salvo's op-shops. Staff are friendly, and as I said earlier, they really have done an impressive job in establishing an interesting new store.

where is it?

how do i get there? Tram no.16 (catch the tram all the way to Acland St, St Kilda. The tram then diverts up Carlisle St)
will i have to wait for a change room? 3 change room
whats on the stereo? Fox FM
i'm hungry? stop by at Cafe Bruce, a couple of doors up. good food and great smoothies.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

can you recycle recycled clothes?

I've written a blog about recycling second hand clothes (well, my failure to do so) on I op therefore I am

Check out the post, but more importantly, check out the blog. It's a collective, Melbourne based blog on op-shopping. Lots of great articles and vintage finds to browse through.

go to:

Friday, November 20, 2009

St James Op Shop, Tooronga

St James' occupies a little space off the tram line in central Tooronga. It's posh, but a little shabby. With old wooden fittings and grand old green carpets with little white arrows speckled through them.

On a rainy but sticky afternoon a volunteer with a severe haircut and a clipped accent was sorting through clothes from a deceased estate at the counter. The selection reflected the affluent surrounds of Tooronga and neighbouring Malvern, though some of the pieces were a little careworn and old-fashioned. The shop has that heady, musky smell of old clothes and mothballs.

There were some delicate white and cream shirts. Most had soft embroidery around the collar and along the sides, I loved this peach one with little bows sewn into the collar. The men's suits were heavy and in good condition, despite some marks around the collar. There was a little section devoted entirely to evening dresses. A floor-length dress, with lines of glimmery sequins, a high neckline and a scooped stood out from the other dresses. Though I did admire a knee-length black dress the velvet roses and a high, draped neck.

The shop had these lovely old wooden fixtures, lined with shoes and black handbags with gold edges. Lamp shades, blankets, woolly bed spreads, pot holders, threads and items for making tapestries were stored in neatly labelled boxes on the shelves above the racks of clothes.

The entire shop felt like a country tearoom, it had a little area out the back that had baby clothes, men's shirts and books and looked out onto the overgrown garden behind the shop. I loved this white lace top I found on a circular rack of women's shirts, it was cropped at the waist and had slightly puffy sleeves.

Despite a few stand-out pieces the dress collection was a little generic. There were a few black fitted dresses and heavy "shirt dresses" made from bright material. But the store had its own charm and there were some well-made and delicate pieces (I loved the little sherry glasses and porcelain figurines in the backroom.)

FINAL WORD: Posh/shabby chic, with brisk volunteers but some unique pieces. A perfect place with a country op-shop feel, good for browsing on a rainy afternoon.

where is it? 1378 Malvern Rd, Tooronga
how do i get there? Tram no.72 to the corner of Malvern and Glenferrie Rd
will i have to wait for a change room? 1 changeroom
whats on the stereo? nothing!
i'm hungry? There is milkbar next door, or if you are feeling like a big meal, there is a great Vietnamese restaurant a couple of stores up.

Monday, November 16, 2009

name the nameless opshop

does anyone does know the name of the "nameless opshop" below ... let me know in the comments below. speculation on what it would be named, or what you would name it is also welcome!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

197 Greville St, Prahran

This is the vintage store with no name (well ... apparently no name). There are beautiful things in the cluttered oval windows and the store has some handsome, handmade pieces inspired by the 1950s.

The store is marked only by 197 on the glass pane above the doorway, its small and crowded, and was once most likely a living room. But all the furniture has been cleared away and the store is now populated by glorious jackets, dresses, shoes and embroidered creations.

There are heavy real fur jackets and mink round hats, but also a big selection of soft faux fur jackets. 197 actually has one of the most extensive and varied (in colour and style) collections of real and faux fur coats I've seen in a vintage store. The selection of vintage items overall has been well-crafted. With dapper lace-up shoes, small brown ankle boots, 50s dresses with layers of embroidered and sheer material, the store has this "old world European" feel.

I loved these soft round caps that could be clipped onto the hair and this little white hat with lace trimmings and pearl finishing. There was a beautiful white shift dress with pearls embroidered into the collar. The dresses were a mixture of fitted embroidered dresses, floaty crepe dresses with floor-length hems and colourful and pastel shift dresses.

A highlight was this deep plum, form-fitted dress (that gathered at the waist and puffed out at the hips) with a patterned layer over the bust and hips. It made me a little giddy. I also loved a black felt jacket with a heavy crushed velvet collar that "popped out"like a heavy scarf.

There were a couple of tartan pants and pointed cowboy boots and some obscure gold chains and big rings with opaque green centers. There were some lovely tuxedo and casual jackets for men and some of those pointed leather "tap shoe" style shoes, that were flat and lace-up. 197 has a fantastic selection of handmade leather jackets in black (with faded silver studs and ties), blue and "snakeskin" pattern.

It's vintage, and the items are expensive. Expect to pay between $100-$200 for leather, fur and faux fur jackets. $50 for dresses (up to $80 for the more delicate and embroidered styles.) The handmade leather shoes are around $145, but are beautifully crafted.

The store was museum-like when I walked in, it felt as if I came too close to the clothes, I'd be ordered to step back or struck with a taser. I felt awkward walking around under the watchful eyes of the store owner, who was pleasant, but a little edgy around customers. I was relieved she turned on a CD of 90s love and power ballads.

FINAL WORD. Amazing, expensive, crowded and a beautiful concept realised.

where is it?
197 Greville St, Prahran
how do i get there? Sandringham train to Prahran Station walk towards Chapel St, shop is on left-hand side.
will i have to wait for a change room? there are 2 change rooms
whats on the stereo? Awkward silence, then "Fields of Gold."
i'm hungry? There is great little cafe/cheap eateries and pizzeria on the otherside of the street, just on the corner (I forget the name.) It has this awesome 1980s hip-hop vibe and on weekends pizzas are $4.

Monday, November 9, 2009

St Vincent De Paul Op-Shop, Newport

.... And a failed journey to the Anglican Op Shop, Newport.

There are times when I deeply resent not having a car. Walking through the blistering heat in suburban Newport, where there are no other signs of life on a hot afternoon would have to be one of them.

I was on my way to the Anglican Opshop, which is buried deep in the heart of Newport, a fairly flat and shadeless suburb on the fringe of the bay. Little weatherboard houses peeled as I sweated and burned. As I turned into a street with a cluster of small, faded shops, I was relieved that Google maps hadn't let me down. There was the Anglican Opshop (40 Challis St, Newport.) The shop is in a boxy weatherboard house complete with a front garden, mailbox and a fence on the corner. On this corner, however, stood a squat, elderly woman in a bright turquoise top and thick stockings.

I gave her the evil eye when she told me that she'd just closed early because of the heat, and she flashed me a toad-like smile before getting into a battered old Camry that had come to collect her. I stood at the corner for a couple of minutes, until the Camry disappeared around the corner.

So, instead of being about the Anglican Op-Shop in Newport, this post is about the local Vinnies, which is a little closer to Newport Station. The shop is low and cool, with horizontal racks of clothes and rows of furniture that stretch to the very back of the shop. There is a great sense of organisation and separation of the different items and the design makes the most of the long layout of the store, dragging the eye all the way to the far wall.

I was not really inspired by the clothes. There were plenty of target castaway tops, casual denim jeans, and camel and burgundy coloured jackets for the "mature lady." I did like a cropped, cape-like jacket from Brown Sugar that was navy and made from this lovely felt material. I also spotted at peachy, long jacket with pale buttons and a scoop neck. I found the most unique item hanging upside down, on a rack of bland pink and white singlets (also upside down.) It was a shift dress, with a black base and lots of black and silver threads that gave it this woolly texture.

There were some pretty satin and silk nightdresses and gowns, pj's, light floral summer dresses and a Studio 54 skirt that had an Alannah Hill-y appeal.

A low, teak 60s cabinet with sliding glass and patterned doors in the furniture section was perhaps the most impressive op-shop furniture item I had ever come across. It had these curvy, gold handles and short, gold-rimmed legs. Some equally impressive items complimented it, I loved a careworn floral couch, white glass cabinet, dressing table and oak bookshelves. There were plenty of second-hand books and crockery, there was also a cabinet of those "for show" or "only at Christmas, don't let the kids touch" porcelain figures and plate/cutlery sets.

Menswear was strictly casual, there was a decent collection of men's slacks and corduroy pants and colourful range of tops and shirts. I loved these chunky loafers amongst a rather forgettable shoe collection.

FINAL WORD: Vinnie's in Newport has an excellent furniture collection, it's perhaps one of the best I've encountered. The clothes are a little bland, but easy to browse, cheap and you may find one or two unique items. The shop is also beautifully air-conditioned and open daily to five!

where is it?
3 Mason St, Newport
how do I get there? Catch the train to werribee, alight at "Newport Station" and turn left through the tunnel and climb over the rickety overpass until you're opposite the bowls club
what's on the stereo? Gold FM
how many change room? 2
i'm hungry? Try Sam's bakery across the road.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Salvation Army Op Shop, Brunswick

Salvos in Brunswick. It's a spacious store divided into two neat halves. Furniture, cupboards, bookcases on one side. Horizontal racks of clothes on the other.

It's a fusion of different styles, I tried on faux fur jackets to "bossa nova" style jazz in a large, off-white change room.

There were some great seventies/sixties-style pieces of furniture, the highlight being a baby blue table with chrome fittings around the side and wonderful long table legs. Browsing was almost like wandering through ikea or a museum filled with second-hand artifacts. There was this wonderful organ with two keyboards, it's polished wood gleamed at me from the front window, and I had to quickly remind myself that I didn't need (or know how to play) an organ.

There was a decent sized selection of clothes, but it was organised well (horizontal, well-spaced out racks) so you didn't feel overwhelmed. There were some wonderful white lace tops and dresses made out of that cool, cottony material with different patterns and appliques. I'm not a big fan of corduroy pants, but the was a pretty extensive collection in the men's wear section. All the clothes seemed to be in good quality and were arranged mostly by colour and style along the racks.

The feature of the women's collection were the variety of those 90s lace and mid-riff tops. I bought this long-sleeved lace top that was cut off at the rib cage. Across the chest there was a red-satin base. It was unique and very nineties (think pairing it with dark lip-stick and doc martens.)

Interestingly, the shops talking point was the big selection of men's work wear (overalls and fluoro tops and jumpsuits) and mattresses. So if you are in the market for both or either of those items, this is the place to look. The prices were good, which is typical of most salvos stores. Dresses ranged from $5-$20. Pants and suits from $20-$50 and furniture (especially the large pieces) from $70.

where is it? 740 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
how do i get there? Tram no.19 to Coburg from Elizabeth St
will i have to wait for a change room? there are 2 change rooms
whats on the stereo? Bossa Nova - fusion jazz (??)
i'm hungry? I'd recommend the Retreat Hotel a little further up Brunswick St. Great pub with a retro feel.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Scavengers, Brunswick

Scavengers in Sydney Rd, Brunswick is like a barn styled in warm, Tuscan colours and is populated by an eclectic mix of vintage finds. It's a dark, cool place that embraces that "vintage store" attention to quirky detail and decoration.

Smelling of rich incense, the prices are displayed on old 8mm records and crocheted pictures of the Virgin Mary hang above racks of stylish and multi-coloured clothes. There is a great variety in the colours and textures of the clothes and I found some unique styles and cuts amongst the collection.

I found true love with a smock dress with small shoulder pads made from the most beautiful patterned rayon. Multi-coloured feathers swirled around upon a deep, purple and red shimmery base. It can be worn back to front and front to back and only needed a little tailoring to lift the hemline.

There were also an impressive range of colourful 80s day-dresses, made from heavy crepe material. I spent 10 minutes contemplating a navy fitted dress with gold buttons and a mid-calf hemline.

There were some lovely hats (think trilby's and 50s delicate caps) and a descent collection of handbags and leather clutches. There are also lovely old bookcases filled with self-help, fiction and fantasy second hand books.

It is a small space, and I found myself tucking my elbows in while browsing and maneuvering from rack to rack. For a vintage shop the prices are incredibly reasonable. Most dresses were around the $16-$20 mark and there were a couple of discount racks outside the store with half-priced items.

FINAL WORD: A cool space, with lots of great vintage pieces and collectibles, Scavengers is a wonderful, if temporary, respite from the real world (especially on a hot afternoon.)

where is it?
349 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
how do i get there? Tram no.19 to Coburg from Elizabeth St
will i have to wait for a change room? there is 1 changeroom
whats on the stereo? miscellaneous Indie music
i'm hungry? I'd recommend the Retreat Hotel a little further up Brunswick St. Great pub with a retro feel.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vinnies, Coburg

The store is a large complex, with dark blue walls and large square windows facing out into Sydney Rd. Everything is nicely separated, long racks of women's clothing in the front, men's clothing on the right and furniture and home-wears in the back and along the left wall.

Initially I was a little underwhelmed at this Vinnies on the edge of Brunswick. In the murky glow, there was nothing that really captured my attention, though the range of average pieces did make the few unique finds stand out.

The racks of women's clothing are nicely spaced out and there is a good variety of textures, especially if you are looking for shirts and tops. Racks are brimming with sparkly appliques and sequin clusters, "brand" name t-shirts, neat tailored and casual shirts and short sleeved tops with crazy patterns.

In a true dynasty moment, I pulled out a slightly crumpled cobalt blue power suit. It was nicely tailored from the bust to the hips and came with Joan Collins-tastic shoulder pads. Sandwiched between some tweed coats was a woolly (and peeling) Chanel imitation suit in black and white. There wasn't an extensive shoe collection, though I did momentarily consider cutting off my little toes for a pair of 80s pumps made from this cool mixture of Lycra and leather.

There were a few nice pant-suit combinations in the men's' section despite the faded appearance of some of the items. What really stood out for me was this leather bomber jacket with a fantastic tan and dark brown acid wash.

The furniture is the highlight of the store. There obviously has been some thought behind it's presentation, as set-out second-hand dining room tables wait to be sat at and heavy oak wardrobes yearn to be opened as you wander around the store. There were some genuinely unique pieces; large oak dressers made from draws with gold handles stacked around gilded mirrors and polished Queen Anne's with those lovely old fashioned keyholes.

Vinnie's continue to impress me with their well-selected range of furniture. There is this grand and old fashioned appeal for vintage furniture nuts like me. Clothes wise, this store is not so exciting, though you may find something brilliant on second look.

where is it? 260 Sydney Rd, Coburg
how do i get there? no 19. Tram to Coburg
what is on the stereo? Magic 1278
will i have to wait for a change room? three decent sized change rooms, it shouldn't take too long!
i'm hungry? try the Kaleidoscope Cafe at 161 Sydney Rd, Brunswick

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Broadmeadows Care Bargain Store, Coburg

The Broadmeadoows Care Bargain Store - located in Coburg?! - is one part op-shop, one part $2 bargain store. It's squeezed between the two Coles outlets behind Bell St in Coburg.

There are some interesting pieces, despite the slightly grubby interior. I loved this 90s lace mid-drift top that was half priced on a rack outside and there was an amazing selection of gold droplet and button clip-on earrings under the glass counter at the front. The collection is limited because of the small size of the shop, it's a square space that has been partitioned off. I found myself considering buying a velvet coat, but being distracted by discounted detergent and lavender soap on the shelf in the middle of shop.

There were pirate party plates, crepe rosettes, rosewater sprays, odd shaped vases and paper plates. The store is obviously a bit of a community staple. Most of the customers chatted happily away with volunteer behind the desk and the clothes had an everyday wear-ability and were affordable. The collection included plenty of womens basics, including brand new singlets, children's wear and a range of navy blue and white pumps with kitten heels.

My shopping buddy found a navy wool and polyester pin stripe suit that had been tailor made in Hong Kong, it only needed a little bit of careful darning on the inside left pocket and a dry clean. Another good find was a pair of black skinny jeans for around $15.

The bargain center is a little shop, and you won't be overwhelmed by a mountains of clothes. The bargain store/opshop combination is a neat idea and it's one of those tucked away gems to remember when you're next in the area.

where is it? Rear 95 Bell St, Coburg
how do I get there? catch the no.19 tram from Elizabeth St to stop 34 in Coburg - get off just before you cross Bell St. -
is there parking? plenty, there is a generous parking area at Coles opposite.
what's on the stereo? magic 1278
i'm hungry?? plenty of kebab shops, try the arcade just off Sydney Rd. Half Moon Kebab shop has kebabs without the grease -$7.00

Friday, October 23, 2009

little things make the world go round ...

a couple of things ...

check out - it's a brand new blog where you can read, post, discuss everything Melbourne.

also .... I'm presenting a 1 hour show on SYN 90.7 (fm) every Thursday, it's all about new music. Tune in Thursdays from six!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

South Melbourne Night Market

The St Kilda Beach night market has become a popular staple of a balmy Thursday night through-out late spring and summer. The smattering of stalls and hippies mesh well with the busy atmosphere of Acland St. It's a warm, beachy and fragrant with food and what I like to call the distinctive "pong" of St Kilda.

I think the South Melbourne Night Market is attempting to tap into the same late-night market crowd. Little stalls attach themselves to the edges of the closed South Melbourne Market. South Melbourne market itself is housed in an ominous red brick building and the night market stalls are like a community of squatters on it's fringes. Unlike the suburbs of Carlton and Fitzroy, where the culture and the hustle of the city tend to bleed into, South Melbourne is like an isolated inner suburban pocket. When I went the night was really still and the whole place had this calm, almost secluded atmosphere despite the proximity to the city.

Around the market, huge vats of paella bubbled away and a ten year old played Lou Reed songs on the guitar. There was plenty of those knicknacks, which seem to only appear at markets - badges, light bulbs in plants, fisherman pants, hippie scarfs and headbands. - All this stuff generally ranges from the kitsch to the mildly useless. But then again, markets are fantastic places for young artists to sell their stuff to the public.

The South Melbourne Night Market did have a couple of decent vintage clothes stores. Wild Monkey - a vintage store in a container shed on the Coventry St side - had a diverse and carefully put together collection of dresses, coats, chunky knit jumpers. There were plenty of those colourful crepe dresses, with horizontal pleats, bright patterns and strange below the hip-line waists. There were some good box hats and a range of vintage sunglasses with thick rims.

Just around the corner was a lovely open air vintage stall. Ankle boots with zips and buttons and old doc martens spilled from suitcases with coiled-up belts and coloured scarfs. The variety of tops and jackets were really impressive too. I loved this silver creation made from a delicate, web like fabric, it had these sequin embellishments around the shoulders and a gathered-in waist.

The market is smallish and comes abruptly to an end after a store selling Belgian waffles. The overall feel of the market is enhanced by nightfall under the glow of the little coloured lamps that hang from the ceiling. If you are into your analogies, you could compare the night market to a racehorse, not quite at it's stride but showing signs of early promise.

** I have to mention that across the road from the market, a couple of stores had stayed open. One of them was a lovely French vintage and homewares store called, Gigi a la maison. It was crowded with little French artifacts from the early 20th century. I adored this lamp (pictured above), it had a porcelain base shaped like Marie Antoinette. Beautiful colour and detail despite some minor chipping.

where can I find it? South Melbourne Market; 322 Coventry St South Melbourne
how do I get there? catch the no.96 tram to the South Melbourne light rail station
when is it open? 5.30pm-9.30pm every Thursday through-out the warmer months
i'm hungry? some of the regular stores stay open just for the markets, paella, waffles, juices and sushi and just some of the food on offer.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Grey St Op Shop, St Kilda

The Grey St Op Shop is an off-shoot of the sacred heart mission, located in a cavernous old church hall on the crest of the hill in Grey St, St Kilda. It's warm, closed off space, drenched in these lovely rose colours, which radiate from the glass on the high, stained windows.

The store has this quirky decor. Oriental paper umbrellas line the back wall, while lanterns and floral arrangements in plastic cones dangle from the ceiling. Circling above them all are two paper-mache whales that "swim" suspended by wires above the shop. It's lovely, every time I scanned the shop, I found something obscure suspended somewhere above.

The collection itself looks bigger than it actually is. The organisation of clothes is a little dysfunctional, with racks of men's and women's apparel scattered through-out the shop. The lack of order actually works quite well, giving the store this Sunday market feel. I have to admit I wasn't all that impressed by the clothes when I first browsed through. There was nothing all that unique, but you could tell by the functional and well-kept and stocked variety of clothes that this op-shop had a real community focus.

The best pieces seemed to be buried at the back of racks crammed with sensible black pencil skirts, t-shirts and casual jackets and jumpers. Nestled between a beige jersey trench and a rain slicker I pulled out a faux fur jacket that was speckled in this orange and black colour. The faux fur looked more like ostrich feathers, and the coat had these wonderful brass buttons with huge opaque centers. On the other side of the store I found a red leopard print top with long sleeves and a gathered collar. It was made of this wonderful light material and was $5.

The shoe collection is worth a look. Located on the far left side of the hall, there were several shelves of neatly arranged and quietly impressive shoes. There were black, gold and beige pumps and flats for women, and a couple of ornate sandals with rope ties and buckles. The men's shoe range included some lovely black and brown formal pieces, I loved a pair of black ankle lace-up boots from country road.

Aside from the clothes, the op-shop had a fantastic smattering of obscure trinkets, old-style furniture, records and glass-wear through-out the shop. I loved this white chest of draws with gold handles down the front and admired some cute sherry glasses. As a bit of a side-note the shop had a great range of cheap glass-wear and cutlery (all items around the 50c mark.) Not only were there individual items, but you could purchase sets of glasses and mugs.

As mentioned a little earlier the shop has this great community feel, I went on a Saturday afternoon and the shop was busy with locals browsing and dropping off donations. They even allow dogs inside, I almost stepped on a pug dog panting ferociously underneath a clothes rack. The staff were friendly and a security guard kept a watchful eye over the shop (though I did catch him trying on a suit jacket just before I left.)

After my initial disappointment with the clothes in the op-shop I really wanted to give it a second chance before I left. I browsed through a rack near the front of the store and found a Lisa Ho long-sleeved lace top made from a browny-gold viney material for $15.

The shop itself is this adorned sanctuary with a lovely atmosphere, while there were not any outstanding pieces, it's worth a second look to find some smaller items that may boost your own collection.

where is it?
87a Grey St, St Kilda
how do I get there? the no.16 tram to St Kilda or the no.96 light rail tram to the intersection of grey st and fitzroy st in St Kilda.
what was playing on the radio? Macey Grey
will I have to wait for a changeroom? unfortunately yes, there are only two.
i'm hungry? try something on fitzroy st st kilda, I had a plastic cup of chocolate mousse from a little bakery after shopping.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Salvation Army Op-Shop, North Melbourne

The Salvo's in North Melbourne is one of those neat almost clinical spaces that I have come to associate with the majority of Salvation Army stores around Melbourne.

Sandy yellow walls and earthy red coloured linoleum match the colour-coded clothes on long racks. There is plenty of room to browse, but also lots of clothes.

It's a big warehouse style store on busy, but underrated Errol St in North Melbourne. Large Men's and Women's clothing sections are parted by bags, baskets of yarn and knitting needles, books and a small VHS collection.

I found that the best pieces were on the racks at the front of the shop. The leather felt extremely soft on this bomber jacket with light and dark brown patches. I also liked a thick cardigan that was "vintage" Katies (it's daggy now, but I've found some nice Katie's dresses, cardigans and shirts from the 80s in second-hand shops) with green and cobalt blue patches. The dress racks were overflowing with items in different colours and textures. In general the shop had this great balance of textured, unique items (velvet, faux fur linings, cashmere and knitted materials) and functional pieces like jeans, slacks and shirts.

The menswear section had a similar sense of diversity. There were some great pointed brown shoes, pork-pie hats and shirts/business suits mixed with racks of colourful ties, wacky shoes with colourful laces and those denim bomber-jackets that inspire memories of a cold chisel film clip.

There was a small home-wear and furniture section at the front of the shop, I admired this rose-wood coloured table until I came up close and it was covered with tiny scratches. Now, everyone feels differently about second-hand mattresses, but there were several reasonably priced mattresses and bases along the back wall (roughly $195 each) and they looked in good condition.

I bought this beautiful jacket made from cashmere and wool with large brass-like buttons along each lapel for $20 (... there was a button missing.) This price was pretty reflective of the prices of the other items in the store. Quality jackets and dresses between $15-$20, but some of the smaller items (like shirts and jumpers) were around $5.

It's an exceedingly clean shop, even if it lacks a little bit of that second-hand store charm. With big-second hand/op-shop "chain" stores like Savers and The Salvo's, op-shopping is becoming a bit more like shopping in a department store. Which is both and good and bad thing. However, in the case of this op-shop the quality of the clothes do speak for themselves despite a lack of atmosphere.

address 19-23 Errol St North Melbourne
how do I get there? the 57 West Maribyrnong Tram from Elizabeth St in the CBD - Stop 12.
what's to eat? Errol's cafe up the road is a nice licensed bar and cafe
what's on the radio? Triple J
eftpos? yes

Friday, October 9, 2009

Antiques and Cafe, Albert Park Tram stop.

Ok, so this one is not really an op-shop. Friday afternoon was incredibly frustrating, I walked fourteen blocks from South Melbourne to Albert Park in heels, black and a faux fur stole (it was unseasonably warm) ...

...only to find the Albert Park Southport opshop I'd been intending to go to was closed. But I discovered this wonderful antiques shop at the Albert Park light railway station on the way home.

It was a great accidental find; incredibly the shop and all its antique, wooden items were squeezed into the old stationmasters building on the platform. My despondent mood was lifted after I walked into the dark space and inhaled this rich grainy, woody smell.

In the narrow space old wooden church pews, giant dark cedar and mahogany tables, deep chairs with wicker linings, bookcases, lockers, arching ladders and a giant wooden wheel (?) were piled neatly on top one another under the high ceilings. There was nice juxtaposition of all the old furniture and this swampy blues music that came from the adjoining cafe. The best item though, was a consentina style wooden changing wall. Like one of those old ones you'd drape all these lovely silk and lace items over while deciding what to wear.

There was plenty of old train paraphernalia (old signs etc), for train/tram nuts interested in vintage items. I didn’t have a ling time to look around, because my tram arrived. It's incredibly expensive (the furniture is worth thousands), but it was a fantastic glimpse at some great period items (many of which I guess would have been used in the station in the early 20th century) ... and a good way to kill some time....

where is it? Albert Park light rail tram stop on Ferrars St, Albert Park.
cafe it's attached to the antiques store had this relaxed atmosphere and the coffee smelled good!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Salvation Army, Elsternwick

This is really the little op-shop that could. Concealed behind a grey pylon on busy Glenhuntly Rd, what appears to be an ordinary suburban op-shop delivers some unique finds and fabrics which capture this cool eighties, textural vibe.

The store unfolds in front of you when you enter, it is a narrow, but deep shop that is partitioned into very clear sections (shoes,shirts, skirts, pants, lingere, jeans and menswear in that order.) It has a little bit of a crazy pastel colour theme, with all the walls painted into different blocks of pastel pinks, yellows and blues and an almost sickening fluorescent green.

Shoe sizes were on the smallish size, I fantasized about trying to fit my feet into a pair of size six light brown booties with a subtle faux fur lining and laces with gold caps on the ends. The range of dress sizes was impressive, from fitted little black dresses to floaty floral miu miu's. I spent some time considering this giant black dress with shimmery black feathering, but decided I'd look like Herman Munster if I was ever to wear it out. Alternatively I found this wonderful dress, which looked like denim, but appeared to be made out of a jersey fabric. It had these soft little pockets lined with a navy fabric and an angular high collar. Eventually I found a cream, silk top, with puffy sleeves, slight shoulder-pads and delicate floral featuring around the left shoulder.

There were some really sturdy pieces in the mens collection, nothing outlandish but practical. Rugby tops, t-shirts and sports jackets were some of the strongest pieces, though there were some horrible windproof fishing jackets that reminded me of a guy I used to date.... There were also some beautiful pure wool mens navy and black suit jackets at around $12, that appeared in extremely good condition (everything in this store was excellently priced.)

At the very back of the store there is a colourful little room with children's clothes, shoes and toys. The shop also has a comprehensive collection of secondhand paperbacks and those dear op-shop paintings which are often a little lopsided. It is a well organised shop, there is good variety of clothes without being overwhelmed by jumble. The homewares' section in particular has this good balance of items and space, it's neat and nothing feels like it is about to topple of the shelf. Browsing and inspecting trinkets and glasswear was easy

I went early afternoon, and it seemed like a busy local hub without being overcrowded. The volunteers were youngish and friendly and as I mentioned a little earlier the prices were great. At the moment some of the items are half-priced. The cream shirt I purchased was $3.99.

Elsternick Salvo's in an everyday,unpretentious op-shop with some unique finds, it's a store that is definately worth a second look if you initially hurry past it.

366 Glenhuntly Rd, Elsternwick

2, they were some of the most spacious changing rooms I have ever been in. 10 people could have fitted in one!

Magin 1278

Getting there:

pt: Catch the Sandringham line train to Elsternwick station

There are 2 hour parking lots behind either side of Glenhuntly rd.

food: Glicks Bakery is a favourite for bagels and other treats.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Who is Ric Ditchburn?

It's always there in the background, a quintessential part of any op-shop experience. The music. I'm always a bit surprised how op-shop and especially vintage shop owners can match the music they play to the mood of the clothes/accessories and other miscellaneous items.

The idea of browsing through a silent op-shop would be strange. I get a small thrill from miming all the words to Perry Como's catch a falling star while wiggling into something horrendously sparkly with giant shoulderpads in the changerooms

I've noticed Magic 1278 - is one of the most popular radio stations in op-shops around Melbourne. Now this may be because of the army of grey haired volunteers behind the counter, but it does expose that older genre of music to wider (younger) audience. I love the way the jocks sound so smooth when they announce tracks, its kind of like the audio version of rich velvety chocolate. It's kitsch and old fashioned, but Elvis and Frankie Valli do bring a certain type of personality to your local op-shop.

Inevitably this all leads us back to the question posed in the title of this blog post ... who is Ric Ditchburn?

Ric Ditchburn
(pictured above) - is one of the Magic 1278 presenters and has had a long career in rock 'n' roll radio. As Magic's 2pm-6pm presenter during the week, it's most likely he'll be talking while you're browsing in the afternoons. I asked him how his popularity in op-shops made him feel, he responded "delightfully opulent." (though he later stated he had no idea what "delightfully opulent" actually meant.)

What do you think makes the perfect soundtrack to an op-shop or vintage shop? I like it when music matches the clothes, old but unique. The other day I was walking around an op-shop in Windsor-end chapel street and they played the entire Born Sandy Devotional album by The Triffids, which was fantastic. I also think copacabanna style music works as well, though I tend to get a little distracted and end up spending a lot of time in the changerooms pretending I'm Carmen Miranda!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Retro Star, Melbourne

Retro Star, Melbourne

The dusty stuffed duck and the attendant wearing steel capped boots in the elevator was a fitting precursor to Retro Star above Swanston St in CBD Melbourne.

It's a kaleidoscope of vintage and retro fashion. Imagine prim 50s style clashing with a riot of 80s colours, textures and sharp silhouettes.

Retro Star is a vintage shop (well actually part of a chain of vintage shops) on the second floor of an arcade in central Melbourne, sandwiched between a subway store and one of those tacky souvenir vendors. It is a little startling to be transported from the dirty, urban bustle of Swanston St into this cavern of retro clothes and accessories. I was overwhelmed when I walked in, blinded by a sea of bright colours and sequins. I mean, it took about 5 minutes for me to work through the first two meters of the shop; there was just so much to take in.

There were hundreds of pretty dresses, bright patterns, colours, many with drawstring waists and cropped hems (which you could tell had been altered/shortened.) I loved this fitted cream dress, made of a heavy material with intricate embroidery across the front and should-pads. Highlights of the dress collection really were the selection of maxi and formal dresses. Some were lovely, puffy creations, with tiered with layers of transparent cream, baby pink and yellow fabric. Other dresses had so many sequins and embellishments sewn into the fabrics they were really heavy. Everything was gloriously textural; it was amazing to be able to touch all of the well crafted and cared for pieces. There were also some more casual, daywear dresses, made from light jersey and cotton that would breath well in the warmer months.

Other highlights of the womenswear collection were these delicate cream cardigans, thicker, coloured jumpers and sweatshirts, little rose-coloured skirts with floral patterns, classic 80s pumps and boots and leather jackets. The selection of denim shorts, jackets, and pants was also fantastic. I have a big thing for 50s hats, especially small round caps (the type you would hold on with pins) with veils, rosettes, faux fur and other embellishments. There was this lovely display of these sort hats, bags, clutches, gloves and faux fur wraps by the back window.

As I mentioned earlier, the store mixed these sorts of prim pieces with edgier, street wear in both men’s and women clothes. The items in retro star are pretty diverse, and I must admit I found some things a little tacky. Backpacks with Marilyn Monroe, canvas bags with pictures of Joy Divison on them and t-shirts and bags with all sorts of slogans and bands on them didn't really do it for me. But I can appreciate the diversity of what was on offer in the store.

If you don't like being absolutely overwhelmed by choice, this might not be the store for you. There are some exceptional pieces here, but the department store-like layout and the sheer number of items available may deter you. Browsing through the racks was a little difficult because there were just so many clothes to push aside to get to want you wanted to look at. The staff was friendly and young, and there were plenty of them to manage the busy store. Prices are reasonable for a vintage store and you can really expect to pay anywhere between $35-$90.

In the end I tried on about 6 dresses and returned all of them, (I think I was unlucky enough to get the change room with the curtain that didn't close properly and most likely flashed the entire store... **change room with curtain malfunction is the one in the middle) I think I had been a little distracted by the amount of things to choose from and it would be great to go back when the store was not so busy. However, I did pull off an overdressed mannequin a tan, felt hood with a fur lining that can worn as a hood or as a wrap/shoal ($45) to soothe my desire to souvenir something.

First Floor, Nicholas Building, 37 Flinders Lane

changerooms: 5 (covered with 50s magazine cut-outs)

music: Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Getting there:

Catch any city bound train to Flinders St Station, Retro Star is in an arcade just before Flinders Lane and Swanston St intersection.

parking: I would avoid trying to find a park around the city, pt it!

Subway, KFC, Hungry Jacks and Maccas all have stores along that strip. If you are looking for something other than junk food I'd recommend Degraves St around the corner (off Flinders Lane)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sally's, Fitzroy

Sally’s Retro Fashion’s in Smith St Fitzroy is a dress-up box filled with lace, hats parasols and beautiful cream nightdresses.

The collection of vintage items literally drips from the walls, as the owner has made the most of a small space by hanging clothes and hats from lattice-shaped blocks connected by wires to the ceiling.

Overall it’s a smallish collection, though the variety and quality of the womens’ and menswear is excellent. The shop is divided into two halves. The front is devoted to racks of some of the softest faux fur coats I have ever felt, beautiful 1940s caps, long black lace skirts and dresses and sweeping night gowns with some of the most delicate embroidery and pearling.

The selection of coats is really something. I indulged in a mid-calf length coat made from brown mohair (that has this wonderful textured feel) and lined with sheep’s wool around the collar ($90 reduced from $125 **) There were also some 70s style tweed and woven jackets with the most delicate gold buttons and a couple of coats made from thick, brown faux fur. Sally's has a smallish collection of dresses, pants and skirts, but there seemed to be a good range of patterns and fabrics. I found plenty of cream and black lace pieces through-out the store, which gave the selection this gothic Victorian feel. There were some beautiful floor-length cream slips with delicate lace and sequinning around the collar.

I uncovered a pair of leopard-print pumps amongst the shoe collection, (shoes hung from a lattice that rested against one of the walls) which could balance/highlight a black outfit. I thought there was a little bit of a lack of colour amongst the clothes in the womenswear section. Everything was very dark and simple (though in beautiful condition), though the colourful range of hats and caps (and bright purple wigs) lifted the mood a little. There is an incredible range of accessories (necklaces, rings, watches, earrings etc) in three tall, glass cabinets at the front of the shop. Long gold chains and a bracelet set with these tiny pearls caught my eye amongst the other jewels.

Menswear is located in the second part of the split-level shop. There is a fantastic selection of hats, bowler, pork pie and wide-brimmed hats. There we some wonderfully thick coats and jackets and a couple of floor-length trenchcoats made of a lighter material. There were plenty of slacks, suit pants, shirts and leather jackets to browse through. I knocked over a “briefcase” from the fifties that was fitted with little items like a razor, mirror and toothbrush holder, which I thought was particularly charming.

Sally’s is a vintage shop and the prices are a little higher than an op-shop. However the condition of the clothes is great and the variety of items is almost incomparable to what you may find in your local op-shop. Most items were around the $40-$90 mark.

** However if you pay cash there is a 15% discount … I also pretended to still be a student and received a further 5% off the price of my mohair coat (eventual price was $75.)

The store owner was polite and left me mostly to browse around alone. Though we did have one rather awkward moment when she snuck up behind me while I was trialling a faux fur coat, cap and leopard print pumps combination.
There were totally some items in this store I would never consider purchasing, such as a pair of vinyl black pants, a hip-length real fur mink coat and a canvas, patterned, cape held together by curtain tassles. But these unique items hinge together this wonderful collection of dress-up box worthy materials and trinkets.

***As a little bit of an afterthought, try to avoid vintage clothes shopping around Gertrude St Fitzroy on a Monday. Wonderful vintage shops like Moustache and Curve are only open Tues-Sat from around 11am-6pm.

203 Smith St, Fitzroy

changerooms: 3 (covered with 50s magazine cut-outs)

music: The Beatles - across the universe

Getting there:

pt: Catch the number 86 tram from Bourke St Mall

parking: a few 1p ticketed car parks up side-streets off smith st

The old post office on Smith Street has been transformed into this wonderfully presented cafe - its worth stopping by and having a coffee there, especially if you are waiting for your tram (the stop is right outfront!)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fringe Festival '09

As a little side-note to the reviews usually posted on this blog, I'm volunteering for a couple of nights at this years Melbourne Fringe festival. I'm going to be working the box office at the North Melbourne town hall, selling tickets and working the door.

I'm also trying to actually make it to a couple of shows this year, "Genius: The Gospel, Soul and Rock 'n' Roll of Br. Ray" (a gospel.rock.caberet style performance based around the music of Ray Charles) and hopefully a couple of others.

Jeff Duff is one of the performers in the Ray Charles tribute. I encountered him a little earlier this week at work. I would describe his style as something near David Bowie meets Willy Wonka in wonderland. He had this beautiful cream suit on, matched with cream long socks, loafers and boater hat (that's him in the top left corner.)

if you can, and you're into the music of Ray Charles check out the show playing at the Collins St Baptist Church (174 Collins St Melbourne) from September 24th - 10th October from 7.30pm

Going with the "op-shop" theme of things, if you have a little time Joanne O'Callaghan (from Op-shop Tours Australia) is taking tours around second-hand, vintage and op-shops as part of the festival. It's a little pricey, but its a great way to discover hidden places, shops and finds - and also to be part of the festival. With its "secret itinery " and O'Callaghan's great op-shop and local knowledge hopefully you'll discover something extraodinary. This being said, I always find op-shopping a bit of a sacred, me-time, one person only experience. So if you like to shop alone and avoid competition over clothes/items maybe this may not be your thing.

Tours start on the corner of Queensberry and Erroll St North Melbourne (they run for 4 hours) and cost around $27.

for more info check out:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vinnies, Hampton

one sentence review: The shop is an amazing place to go if you are looking to furnish a house ... I swooned over some old romantic pieces like an oak wardrobe with beautiful old door handles and a full-length mirror that possessed this rich, nutty aroma.

This week I took some advice from a friend and went to have a look at the St Vincent de Paul Op Shop on Hampton St, Hampton. It's a large warehouse style complex on the main rd and it is busy on a weekday afternoon

The shop is an amazing place to go if you are looking to furnish a house. There are full sets of tables and chairs (good quality if only for a couple of minor scratches) in the outside area in front of the op-shop and other miscellaneous items (including one of those deep, old baby bayonets.) The best items are concealed in this covered shed that runs along the side of the op-shop. I swooned over some old romantic pieces like a large mahogany dresser with oval shaped mirrors and an oak wardrobe with beautiful old door handles and a full-length mirror that possessed this rich, nutty aroma (it reminded me of when I used to hide in a similar one owned by Mum when I was little.) There was a newish computer desk and a couple of filing cabinets that would be great if you needed to furnish a small office space.

Inside the clothes seemed a little less impressive, though there was plenty to browse through. The shirts and tops were all beautifully colour-coded, one rack reminded me of a sunset or a tequila sunrise! The selection of warm knits and jumpers was excellent, but there was an alarming amount of ugly suede jackets with faux fur trimmings around the collar and sleeves. I found a pearly, sheer top with buttons down the front and big shoulder-pads and a sheer animal print top that could would match a high-waisted skirt. There was a good quality range of menswear towards the back of the shop, with a variety of slacks and jackets for a more mature-aged guy.

In the next room there were lots of squishy couches, cutlery, linen, quirky painted porcelain, rocking chairs and a bird cage. There were also some more (smaller) furniture pieces, a hat stand and toys for kids. For those nuts who like to ring talk back radio as soon as they see the first Christmas decorations in store, they are definitely out and proud in this op-shop. Big, fake plastic trees, decorations and thigh-high plastic Santa’s' filled the front window/area of the shop.

Operating this op-shop would be no small feat, there is a small army of volunteers working mainly out the back (and through-out the shop) sorting, pricing and selling all the donated goods. The front of house staff were also really helpful, especially one burly volunteer who helped me rope a wall-unit for a tv/dvd into the back of my sedan style car - even after he said it couldn't be done!

You could describe the layout of the shop as spacious, but neat, which really helps you get a good appreciation of all the furniture and other items. Big problem is the number of changing rooms, with the size and popularity of the store they could probably do with a couple more to cope with the demand.

I'd recommend visiting this op-shop, even if it is to wonder around, lie on the couches or hide in the cupboards for an hour.

address: 501 Hampton St, Hampton

changerooms: 2

music: Magic 1278

Getting there:

pt: Catch Sandringham train to Hampton St and walk back towards the intersection of South Rd and Hampton St

parking: plenty of parking down side streets, though be careful to watch for permit zones and small children at the end of school time

food: Alessandro's cafe is a lovely, old style Cafe and Cucina about 20 meters from Vinnies.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Carousel Recycled Boutique, Camberwell

one sentence review: Carousel is comparable to a posh old woman's closet.

The Carousel Recycled Boutique has been "closing down" for almost 3 months. At the top of the hill on Burke Rd, Camberwell it's a bit of an afternote to the flashy thoroughfare of the main shops and eateries on the busy strip.

On the front window it boasts "60% off all stock" however be prepared to find a few variations on this claim when you go browsing.

Carousel is comparable to a posh old woman's closet. There are plenty of sensible, good quality pieces; many from labels like Alannah Hill and Chanel. There are a couple of heavy woven jackets with fur linings and trimmings, silk blouses and soft crepe dresses (in pale peach, yellow and pearl shades.) I also thumbed through trouser suits and long cocktail/formal dresses that were neither contemporary or vintage. The highlight of the collection (which is solely for women) was the selection of hats, gloves, fascinators and accessories. I found this gorgeous boat-shaped red cap with a black veil and a couple of feathers for $190, there was also a silk Chanel scarf (in black and white) and designer bags and wallets in one of the display cabinets. There were a number of hats that would be good for the upcoming spring racing carnival on display along the wall.

At the top of the shop a few suits (in the style of the famous woven Chanel two piece) were featured. The shoe selection was ok, the sizes were on the smaller side (largest I saw was an 8), but from good quality labels.

It's a two - tiered shop with most of the clothing and accessories on tables and racks in the front of the shop. A small flight of stairs leads to what I assume are the "high end pieces," changerooms and register. Be warned before shopping, Carousel is really a high-end recycled boutique. The clothes may be secondhand, but the prices are not and the owner is notoriously difficult when it comes to haggling. Jackets ranged between $70- $200, dresses from $30-$100 and accessories $80-$200. There was a lack of unique, vintage pieces, but the clothing and accessories are mostly from designer labels. The quality of clothing is excellent, spacing and layout is good, but the staff can be a little cold and intimidating.

It is worth hiking up the hill because it does give you the chance to touch, feel and perhaps purchase some recycled designer-label items. Though I recommend before purchasing an item (especially if it is labeled as Chanel or Dior) that you ask first about its authenticity.

op shop: Carousel Recycled Boutique, Camberwell

address: 798a Burke Rd, Camberwell


Fox FM

getting there:

pt: catch the Belgrave, Lilydale or Alamein line to Camberwell Station - walk "up" the hill. Otherwise the number 72 tram travels up and down Burke rd regularly.

parking: Parking inspectors and clear-way zones make Burke Rd a bit of a nightmare sometimes. Parking is best in the complex next to Target and Safeway behind the main street. It's worth the walk.

food: Plenty of cafe's and eateries along Burke Rd - Grilled is good for burgers and chips and Georges is good for a coffee and maybe something a little different to eat.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

St Andrews Op Shop Brighton

one sentence review: It has a lot of homely kitsch pieces (such as little statues and crockery) and several dynasty-esque, shoulder-pad fantastic jackets.

The St Andrew's Op Shop operates from a small hall at the rear of the church on the corner of Church St Brighton. It's a neat, airy space, which possesses that real op-shop aroma.

It's staffed by a small team of elderly volunteers who are part of the St Andrew's congregation and its a charming little off-set to the bustle of Church St.

It's a tidy shop, with those quirky old oil paintings and prints of lopsided flowers and sailboats along the wall. It's not the place you would probably come across something really vintagey and obscure. It has a lot of homely kitsch pieces (such as little statues and crockery) and several dynasty-esque, shoulder-pad fantastic jackets. Actually these jackets are something special, coloured angular blazers, puffy shoulder pads and frills, pleats and bows and poker dots, I had to be a little careful not to get carried away. They are always the type of thing that seems really great while I'm trying them on in the shop and pretending I'm Joan Collins, but I seem to have many of these sort of blazers/jackets in my wardrobe that I cannot find anything to match and wear with in an everyday non-dynasty situation.

There was a some really sweet lace and silk nightwear towards the back of the shop. I loved this floaty, soft felt top with a lace trimming around the collar that could be worn to bed or as a camisole. There was plenty of affordable linen, pillows, cushions, table clothes and towels along the back right-hand section of the shop. Items ranged from about $5-$10, and it was really simple to locate some pieces that would look really nice around the home. In the mens wear section there were some good picks, i picked out a couple of reasonably priced Rivers and Gaz man shirts and there was a rack with some well-cared for tweed and suit jackets ($20)

80s pumps, rounded heels and toe, sandals and flats dominated the women's shoe section, and I found these huge, doc martin-esque work boots that were so heavy I could barely life them off the shelf. The was also plenty of kids wear to browse through.

St Andrew's Op Shop has a bit of an unusual lay out. The clothes are on racks in the middle of the floor of the shop arranged in horizontal rows (imagine salmon migrating up stream.) It's a little hard to navigate around, but it creates a nice sense of blocking through-out the shop and really helps to distinguish the different areas from each other (i.e mens, women's, kids etc.) It's a fairly small collection, but the space on the racks means the clothes don't get creased, its easy to flick through and you're not overwhelmed by choice. There were even some really nice dresses, especially nice floral floaty dresses that would be good for summer and some patterned and bright wrap around dresses for casual daywear. My pick of the shop would have to be a giant, cream lamp shade, with lace trimming around the side. It looked pristine and was priced at only $8! (I'm a little bit of a lamp fanatic.)

The staff were nice and left me alone to browse around the shop. It was nice to wonder around and listen to all their church gossip and old Perry Como songs on the radio. The prices were very low, I picked up a pair of comfortable leather and synthetic pumps with a small heel for $5.

op shop: St Andrews Op Shop Brighton

address: 17 St Andrews St, Brighton

changerooms: 1

music: Magic 1278

getting there:

pt: catch the Sandrigham train to Middle Brighton Station and walk down the gentle slope until you get to the round -about

parking: Parking can be a little dicey on the main street but Coles and Safeway have big car parks behind Church St, where there are generally spaces

food: Popular restaurant, "the pantry" is opposite the op-shop, otherwise try the adjacent fish and chip shop or Brumby's next door!

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Sacred Heart Mission Op Shop, Balaclava

one sentence review: It's kooky, but not in the cluttered way.

Sacred Heart Mission Op Shop on the corner of Inkerman and Williams street is in on the edge of the Orthodox Jewish community in Balaclava. It's kooky, but not in the cluttered way. The shop is really well ordered and interestingly arranged, which makes browsing around enjoyable. The shop originally must have been the corner deli or supermarket. Cutlery (plates, cups, bowls and coloured tupper-wear containers) are stacked neatly on the shelves of one of those industrial/ shop refrigerators. This only ads to the quirky appeal of this op shop.

The clothes were of good quality and looked really well cared for (no creases and minimal damages or stains.) My favourite pieces were a bat-winger bomber jacket made of leather and green suede. I also had my eye on a tiered shift dress made from a heavy, carpet-like material and patterned with pearly embroidery.

They had a small selection on a-line skirts (good for work), jeans, formal pants and jackets on the floor in the main part of the shop. If you visit this op-shop make sure you don't miss the extra racks of mens and womens clothing/footwear in the back two rooms of the store (navigate your way to the back of the store, past the cutlery refrigerators and down a narrow corridor lined with kitchen appliances.) I think they put their best items in the front of the shop, however I still pulled out a couple of leopard print shirts and some ankle-length boots from the selection in the back room.

The two small backrooms also have clothes for kids, work boots for men (and clothes) and fuller figure garments for women. Ladies, this op-shop is also a great place to visit if you want to find a unique, vintage headpiece or fascinator for this years spring racing carnival. I really liked this peachy round cap with rosettes and a clip in facinator with feathers and a veil. For guys, there were a pair of Nike Air Jordan's in absolutely top condition for $35. The variety of men's clothing is also pretty decent, with a range tweed jackets and coloured slacks (which could look cool if you could carry that sort of look.) There were also a range of cotton and wool made suit and pant sets.

The selection of womens accessories was wonderous. Cute faux and real fur lined gloves, mufflers and fingerless hand-warmers were hung in a cupboard near the front counter. Also, there were rows and rows of necklaces and a glass cabinet filled with all sorts of gold trinkets and chains. It was hard not go past a shelf of old-school SLR and medium format cameras and camera parts. The shop also contained an impressive range of good-quality second hand books (no dog-earred corners or suspicious yellow stains!)

The guys running the shop while I was there seemed really friendly and helpful. It was actually really good to see a couple of blokes running an op-shop and it seemed to be popular destination for locals and regulars on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The op-shop is open from 10am-5pm 7 days a week - which is fantastic for those frustrated by short trading hours in op-shops, especially on weekends. Prices range from about $12 for womens tops, around $20 for dresses and mens pants to $40 to some of the bigger, good quality items (like leather and suit jackets and some of the more intricate hats and baubles.)

op shop: Sacred Heart Mission Op Shop Balaclava

address: 415 Inkerman St, Balaclava

changerooms: 2

music: 80s - Naked Eyes, Always something there to remind me

getting there:

pt: tram up Inkerman is probably your best bet - there isn't all that much in the way of a train stop really close by.

I would also recommend going to the op-shop on a Saturday, because its the sabbath there arent many cars around - but watch out for permit zones (especially around Yeshivah college). Otherwise during the week it is a pretty busy area, but you can usually manage to find a park down a side-street.

food: Again, not much in the way of food shops in close proximity, but Carlyle St (roughly the next main intersection if you are heading down Williams rd to Neapen Hwy) has heaps of great little bakeries and cafes.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Fat Helens, Prahran

Fat Helen's on the Windsor end of Chapel st is one of my favourite vintage stores in Melbourne. It's an opulent, pre-Stalinist gem, a crowded but well thought out shop where you are likely to find a smurf in snow ball next to a religious icon from Belorussia.

The sea of vintage goods starts from outside with a jumble of vinyl chairs, floral luggage, old fashioned trunks, tennis racquet's and cushions on the sidewalk. Almost every inch of the space within Fat Helen's is used to store some sort of obscure, wonderful item. Cabinets are lined with collectibles, religious statues and artifacts, accessories, old make-up, cloth patches from the 1980s, vintage wrapping paper, paintings, a box full of mosaic pieces ($35 for the whole box) and vintage crucifixes ($1 each). The glove collection is impressive, a little while ago I bought a pair of brown felt gloves with the softest faux fur lining for $5. A great selection of gloves hang from the ceiling a little further back in the shop, dangle above a small rack of men's vests and shoes.

Fat Helen's is pretty active in its collection of vintage garments and items. The owner (a lovely, but brisk lady with bright hair) takes appointments with people wanting to sell clothes. Be warned though, she has an extremely critical eye and this great sense of garment quality. This well-thought out selection process was evident in quality of the clothes in the store. Most were extremely well cared for, with very little evident damage or wear to the garments. They were seasonally chosen, with lighter fabrics replacing the heavier winter ones from a couple of months ago. In the women's collection there was a good range of 60s shirt dresses with stripes, bold diagonal patterns, more abstract prints (think Jackson Pollock), floral, leopard print and a good mix of fabrics (lace, velvet, sequins etc.) Oddly there was a rack at the very back of the store lined with ankle-length tartan skirts with pleats in red, blue, tan etc.

The range of coats at Fat Helen's is something fantastic. There are softer fabrics like a cobalt blue wrap round coat, a faux fur thigh length jacket, suede jackets with fringing with an impressive selection of leather jackets ($65-$160) in black, patterned, tan and cream. A pair of roller-skates was the highlight of the shoe selection, there are plenty of mens boots and vintage shoes for women.

Because this is a privately owned and run vintage store the prices are higher than what you'd expect if you walked into your local op-shop. Though there is no substitute for the quality and uniqueness of garments, accessories and items available at Fat Helen's. Dresses and tops will put you back around $25-$70 and jackets around the $70 mark. Though, if you look carefully you are likely to pull out something magnificent and pretty reasonably priced. The crowded space makes it a little hard to browse while elbow to elbow with other customers while the store is full.

The "dressing room" is something else. I assume it once was an old, cylindrical hot water heater that has been hulled out. It's extremely difficult to get in and out of and there is no mirror! So to avoid frustration and sweatiness - you may have to try items on over your clothes.

Staff are delightful and you can purchase items on EFTPOS ($15 minimum.)

where is it? 78 Chapel St, Windsor
how do i get there? The Sandringham train to Windsor station
will i have to wait for a change room? ** see above
whats on the stereo? Think Copacabana
i'm hungry? Again its Chapel St, so there is lots of food - but I would definitely recommend Tyranny of Distance just opposite the Melbourne Bowls Club. Its open air (so you can smoke) and there is a bar. Good range of tapas and tea and other good stuff
address: 147 Union St Windsor

can I get a park?
It is Chapel St, so its a bit of a nightmare. All around are permit zones and paid parking. Though if you go up the side street just before fat Helens (heading toward Dandenong Rd) and take the first right there is a little side-street with 2 hour parking most days.

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