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.