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.
FINAL WORD: 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.