HOT Spots Winter 2010

P1050628v1Once again the City of Melbourne have produced a free pocket-sized booklet full of lots of ideas to inspire you to get out of the house and enjoy winter in Melbourne. This is a post to bookmark!

I sat down with a cup of tea and flicked through the booklet, which you can pick up at many inner city shops, cafes and bars, as well as the Melbourne Visitors Centre, NGV and ACMI. It covers new places and old classics split up into five geographical sections, some of which have been reviewed on the blog before and some of which I’ve earmarked for a visit. Here are my highlights:

Central

The Wheeler Centre. The new heart for Melbourne’s literary culture, the Wheeler Centre holds frequent author’s talks, some of them free. I’m going to hear Ayaan Hirsi Ali speak on Thursday 29 July.

Melbourne International Film Festival. I look forward to MIFF every year – for three weeks I get to hibernate in the city’s cinemas and feast on great films. Last year I managed to get to fifteen of them!

Previously blogged Izakaya Den, Tessuti Fabrics and Movida Aqui get a mention and I’m aiming to hit pizza specialists Barbagallo, new bar 24 Moons and hot new Mexican eatery Mamasita (again, with better lighting).

Northside

The North Melbourne Market has become a regular event held every two months. So many new options for me here – cheese galore at La Latteria, take home cassoulet at La Parisienne Pates, authentic Indian food at the Classic Curry Co, browsing vintage furniture and bric-a-brac at The Junk Company and having a pub lunch at Hotel Lincoln.

Cultural

I’m not going to see Mary Poppins the Musical because I saw it recently in London, and it was one of the most magical, fun and joyous theatrical events I’ve ever been to. When Mary Poppins flew into the air the whole crowd spontaneously broke out into cheers! Highly recommended.

And I’m definitely going to try Tsindos, a 30-year old stalwart of Little Greece in Lonsdale Street and I’m told home to great mezethes.

Westside

I was excited to hear about Urban Reforestation, a community garden, eco shop and educational centre in the middle of concrete-and-glass Docklands. Their aim is to inspire urban farming for sustainability and food security (they’re currently investigating the possibility of rooftop farms!) through consultation with corporates and for helping individuals with gardening lessons and cooking classes.

I think I’ll combine a visit to Urban Reforestation with a stroll around the Docklands Sunday Market and maybe a late lunch as part of Slow Sundays, where you get a $15 tasting plate with beer or wine between 2-6pm every Sunday from 20 June – 29 August.

Southside

I’ve just renewed by NGV membership so I will be heading to NGV’s Winter Masterpieces 2010 European Masters: Stadel Museum 19-20th Century between 19 June – 10 October.

ACMI is hosting a huge Tim Burton exhibition direct from New York’s MOMA from 24 June – 10 October which I’m quite excited about.

State of Design, Victoria’s design festival, is happening between 14-25 July and once again I’ll be immersing myself in all things design for two weeks. As part of the festival Melbourne Open House is on 24-25 July where lots of heritage buildings will be open to the public – a great way to learn some of the stories and history behind the city.

Last but not least, Melbourne Design Market is happening at Federation Square carpark again on Sunday 11 July. This year will be extra special for me because the lovely Kath and Ben from Jellybean Bikes and my new cycling clothing and accessories business CycleStyle will be setting up a cycle-licious stall at the market! Come and say hi.

For details and more winter ideas, check out That’s Melbourne.

HOT Chat: Stef Dadon and Elise Kausman of Up & Comers Fashion Market

We interrupt our usual blogging schedule today to bring you this week’s HOT Chat a couple of days early. That’s because Stef Dadon and Elise Kausman are launching the Up & Comers Fashion Market this Saturday 15 May, and of course you need to know about it now rather than on Sunday.

RMIT Graduate Stef and Melbourne University student Elise are vintage sellers and fashion lovers and the Up & Comers Fashion Market is their brainchild. They’ve gathered over 30 men’s and women’s clothing and accessories stalls at historic 19th century Art Deco theatre Ormond Hall from 11-5pm tomorrow. Ormond Hall is part of the Belgian Beer Cafe, which means that while you’re browsing the market you can enjoy drinks from the bar inside the hall, sample the full bar menu or grab something from the barbecue or waffle stand in the courtyard.

Stef and Elise have kindly taken the time out from their hectic schedules to answer a few questions for MEL: HOT OR NOT today. Thanks ladies!

Stef and Elise, tell me a bit more about your backgrounds and the Up & Comers Fashion Market?

S: I studied Professional Communication at RMIT, and just graduated last December. I was initially looking to start working with a PR firm or an event management company, but we came up with the concept for the market in January, and suddenly I found myself pretty busy. I’ve since been working almost full time on the market, but hopefully after the opening this week things will slow down a little.

E: At the moment I’m studying Biomedicine at Melbourne University. It can be a bit dry at times, so it’s been great to have the market as a creative outlet.

S: The Up & Comers Fashion Market is all about uniqueness and creativity. It’s a place where you know you can come and find something that you won’t see everyone else wearing.

E: We have found some really talented new designers. It’s also a fun place to go just to hang out with friends – the atmosphere is great and we’ve got live DJs, a bar and food stalls.

How did you select the stallholders and who are some of the designers we can expect to see at the first market?

E: We select stallholders based on their originality, imagination, the quality of their designs and whether they bring something new to the market. We source stallholders from all over Australia and have also received an exciting amount of applications. And by the way, we’re constantly looking for new designers…so if there’s anyone out there looking to kick-start their collection – let us know!

S: There are so many amazing designers that will be selling at the first market. A few names are Mina & Oli, Depths of the Never Never, Harvest Powell, Loré Loré…I’ll stop there before I give too much away.

What challenges have you faced getting the market up and running?

S: One of the biggest challenges we faced was getting people to believe that the market would be a success. In the beginning, designers were sceptical and it was difficult to persuade them to come on board, as all we really had was the general concept.

E: Deciding on a name took forever! We also had to try to find the perfect place – location, size, facilities and ambience are all so important. Personally, the hardest thing for me has been trying to balance organising the market, my sporting commitments and my ridiculous amount of uni work.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?

S: It’s always better to be overly professional. When you’re professional people take you more seriously. I’ve found this is so important – even in fashion!

E: If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you can achieve. Over a year ago, all we had was a bunch of ideas and a keen interest in the fashion world. Since then we’ve started up our own vintage label, LadyLikes, and are now launching what we think will be one of the best markets in Melbourne.

What people, places or things do you turn to for fashion inspiration?

S: I travel overseas quite a bit, and I love wandering the streets and having a look at what people are wearing in other parts of the world. I also love looking through my grandmother’s wardrobe – she never throws anything away and has so many incredible pieces from the 60s and 70s.

E: I draw a lot of my inspiration from vintage clothing. I spend hours upon hours in op shops and markets.

What are you wearing at the moment?

S: I have this crazy obsession with skulls at the moment, my most recent purchase is a gold skull ring that has literally been attached to my finger since I bought it. I also love anything that’s oversized, black or vintage.

E: I’m really into layering different pieces to create a more exciting look. My favourite item in my wardrobe right now is a pair of high waisted black, velvet shorts that I bought from a vintage store overseas.

Finally, what are your tips for what’s HOT in Melbourne?

S: One of the many things I love about Melbourne is that there are always new and exciting things to discover. There’s a comedy night on every Monday at The Local (184 Carlisle St, St Kilda +61 3 9537 2633) that I’ve recently discovered and I’ve been going there quite a bit. Some of the comedians are just locals giving it a go, and then you can also see some pretty big names.

In terms of cafes, Batch Espresso (320 Carlisle Street, Balaclava +61 3 9530 3550) is a major favourite (the avocado smash is delicious), I practically live at Nest Food and Drink (117 Wattletree Rd, Malvern +61 3 9500 1221) where they make the BEST bagels and sandwiches, and Monk Bodhi Dharma (202 Carlisle St, Balaclava +61 3 9534 7250) is a great hidden treasure (if you can find it).

E: I love going out for a quiet drink with friends – and Melbourne’s bars don’t disappoint. Madame Brussels in the city is great, and of course Belgian Beer Café on St Kilda Road!

The Up & Comers Fashion Market is on 11-5pm on Saturday 15 March, then every second Saturday of the month. Check it out at Ormond Hal, Belgian Beer Cafe, 557 St Kilda Rd, Prahran (enter via Moubray St). For stall enquiries, contact info@ladylikes.com.au

HOT: The Social Studio, 128 Smith St, Collingwood

The Social Studio 128 Smith St Collingwood Melbourne Hot or Not review

Fitzroy/Collingwood seems to be the hotbed of social enterprise businesses in Melbourne (see my review of restaurant Charcoal Lane), and in late 2009 another one opened around the corner from me – The Social Studio.

The Social Studio is a non-profit fashion studio space staffed by approximately 20 young members of Melbourne’s refugee community and overseen by the lovely artist Grace McQuilten. I think the value and purpose of The Social Studio is best articulated on their website:

The main barriers faced by newly arrived members of the community are unemployment, isolation and difficulties accessing education and training. The Social Studio addresses these problems in four ways: creating jobs; providing education; encouraging community engagement and social inclusion.

The Social Studio 128 Smith St Collingwood Melbourne Hot or Not review

In the studio Grace and her team teach the basics of design, sewing, cutting, pattern-making and fitting using excess fabrics gathered from local industry. The studies are accredited towards TAFE certificate training in clothing production and design, plus the students’ one-off products – from dresses to tops to bags to jewellery – are on sale at the front of the colourful store (notice the eco-friendly name-stamped cardboard coathangers) and online via Etsy.

The Social Studio 128 Smith St Collingwood Melbourne Hot or Not review

The Social Studio 128 Smith St Collingwood Melbourne Hot or Not review

The Social Studio also offers regular events and workshops. On Saturdays they hold a Re-Mixed workshop where for only $30 you can learn to rework an existing garment from 10am-1pm. On Wednesday evenings they conduct talks called The Quick Unpick ($10 for first talk, $5 thereafter, includes a drink) where you can hear a leading designer discuss their work, ideas and background.

The Social Studio 128 Smith St Collingwood Melbourne Hot or Not review

On your visit also take the time to check out the cosy cafe at the back of the studio that serves a pared down breakfast/lunch menu and Social Roasting Company‘s fair trade coffee, the product of another social enterprise business focusing on the long-term unemployed.

On Grace’s recommendation I tried the French toast with fruit and honey, a modest description for a generous pile of soft eggy Turkish bread (I’ve never had French toast done using Turkish bread before – delicious!), peach slices and dried apricots, all drizzled with honey. It was sweet and filling and a bargain for $8.

The Social Studio 128 Smith St Collingwood Melbourne Hot or Not review

Having volunteered in refugee organisations before and being exposed to some harrowing stories, I strongly believe that any business that encourages refugees in Australia (particularly young people) to learn, participate, engage, dream and work should be supported. Remember that all the revenue raised from the sale of the clothing, workshops, events and cafe go back into funding the primary project – so get yourself and your friends down to the The Social Studio soon.

HOT Chat: Ashley Tell from Golden Palomino Vintage and Darling Clementine

Golden Palomino Vintage Ashley TellToday’s HOT Chat is also a guest post by Poppy, a Melbourne blogger who I met at the Nuffnang Christmas Party and the author of Poppy Gets a Life (which you’ll see is a MEL: HOT Read). Poppy’s blog is all about her move off the corporate ladder into a job where she has the time and energy to enjoy a life outside of work – including all the cool things that Melbourne has to offer.

Poppy’s HOT Chat is with Ashley Tell, owner of the fashion labels Darling Clementine and Golden Palomino Vintage. Thanks Poppy and Ashley!

Pioneer of the pop-up shop before they even became a trend, Ashley Tell has a lifestyle that would make anyone envious. For eight months of the year she travels home to California and then on to Europe buying fabrics, sourcing vintage clothing and keeping up with global trends for the upcoming season. She travels to Berlin, Milan, Paris and Rome before returning back to Melbourne to set up her Golden Palomino Vintage at the Suzuki Night Market. Her wholesale label, Darling Clementine, is distributed throughout Australia during the summer season by Maximum Agencies.

P: Ashley, how did you end up in Australia?

A: I was raised in a small country town in central California.  I was always obsessed with fashion growing up so when the opportunity to do a bit of modelling came up, I jumped. I came to Australia from New York for a shoot. I was booked on a working visa with the anticipation of staying for only three months. That was over ten years ago. Now I feel like I’ve established myself in a little corner of the market here in Australia.

P: Tell me about the clothes you design.Golden Palomino Vintage Ashley Tell

A: I’ve realised I’m better at editing than starting something from scratch; I’m better at working with a piece which has some limitations and then evolving it.

The Darling Clementine label re-cuts vintage fabrics into three or four new styles each season. Golden Palomino Vintage is more focused on true vintage although I have a few racks of reworked vintage too. I enjoy the vintage thing because it’s more of a challenge. I’m not just going to China and ordering off the book.

Both labels try to use sizes that are pretty much one-size-fits all, and I aim to keep it inclusive. I’m a size 12 – 14 partly due to my height.

My workshop is just out the back of my apartment and I employ a local manufacturer. I do all the cutting myself though. I prefer it this way; being hands on. That’s also why I use simple designs. I don’t really think of myself as a fashion designer. I prefer simple, on-trend styles that don’t re-invent the wheel.

Golden Palomino Vintage Ashley Tell

P: Where did the name Golden Palomino Vintage come from?

A: When I did a little capsule range for Sportsgirl years ago, I had to think of a name within that meeting and it was the first thing that came to my mind.  Most of my childhood was spent on the back of a horse. I’ve had the artwork and name sitting collecting dust for years, so I thought “why not use Golden Palomino for my market stall?” I like to stick with the equine theme as I’m from the country and love the horsey thing.

P: Why do you choose to run Golden Palomino Vintage out of the Suzuki Night Market?

A: I enjoy the fast pace of markets – always have. People often ask why I don’t open a store. I’d go crazy. The market allows me the flexibility to travel during winter months and source new pieces for the following season.

P: Tell me the best part about your job.

A: Having the freedom to run part of my business out of places that I want to visit more regularly. For example, I love Mexico, and feel really strongly about helping out smaller manufacturers. So one season I had a bunch of simple peasant dresses made in a small village south of Oaxaca.

P: Tell me a bit about the time you spend overseas each year.

A: I usually spend three months in California with my parents. They aren’t getting any younger, you know. My mum is an interior designer and loves pottery. I guess I got the creative thing from her.

California has some large vintage wholesalers, and I’ve built up my network of contacts there. Europe has a few as well, but it’s often easier for me in Cali.

My partner is Italian, so we spent part of our time in Australia, and part in Italy. Golden Palomino Vintage Ashley TellHe is a professional tennis coach and visits every year for the Australian Open, which is where we met.

P: Do you have any goals for 2010?

A: To be more organised, and to visit two new countries every year. This year I’m hoping to make it to Iceland!

You can catch Ashley at Stall 128 at the Suzuki Night Market (held at the Queen Victoria Market) on Wednesdays from 5.30 – 10.00pm until 24 February. If you miss Ashley’s stall this year, make sure you sign up the Golden Palomino Vintage mailing list.

In Melbourne, Darling Clementine is stocked at Cactus Jam.

Photo credits: Golden Palomino Vintage on Flickr

HOT: Angelucci 20th Century, 113 Smith St, Fitzroy

Angelucci 20th Century 113 Smith St Fitzroy

Smith Street has no shortage of cool vintage stores to browse (see reviews of Lost and Found Market and 84 Smith Street) and the latest addition is the Fitzroy outpost of Windsor shop Angelucci 20th Century.

For over 15 years the owner Dean has sourced vintage furniture from Denmark and France, flatpacked it for import and restored it for sale in one of his two shops. The Fitzroy showroom is a bright airy space showcasing mid-century wooden furniture and lighting plus Angelucci’s own Slimline range of customised furniture which references the same era.

My pick? A rare original production ‘Harp’ chair designed by Jorgen Hovelskov and made in Denmark by Christensen & Larsen. Evidently I have expensive taste. Price? $3200.

Angelucci 20th Century 113 Smith St Fitzroy

HOT: Launch of MEL: Heat Map

For those of you who may not have noticed yet, there’s a new little button on the top menu of MEL: HOT OR NOT –  MEL: Heat Map.

What’s that, you ask? Well, I have been spending my waking hours putting every review on MEL: HOT OR NOT onto a single map. So that means you can go to the movies, find out where to eat nearby, go for dessert at the gelati shop around the corner and drop into a shop to buy your Mum a birthday present on your way home.

To help me launch this whiz-bang map project is Jenny Jiang, one of the co-founders of Melbourne Op Shop Tours. Jenny’s a resident of North Melbourne, and here are her picks for what’s HOT around her neighbourhood. You can take yourself on a little tour with the MEL: Heat Map to guide your way. Thanks Jenny!

Fantastic coffee, house-baked sweet treats and really friendly staff

My favourite breakfast in town – especially the eggs with beetroot relish and the fruit toast with marscapone spread. They have a very limited lunch menu but it’s yummy all the same. It looks really really tiny but there is a courtyard out the back for those rare days when Melbourne weather isn’t ridiculous!

Tiny hole in the wall vintage store with great jewellery and some really outrageous items of clothing! They also have nice   leather bags and scarves. If you do go in and Martin’s there – say Hi for me! We visit his store on our Inner North op shop tour.

Lovely higher-end second hand store with some new stock by Melbourne designers. We also visit this store on our Inner North tour. Gianna (shop-owner) is really sweet and some of the dresses in here are amazing. It is quite pricey though so better for  special occasion shopping. Some of their stock is sourced overseas so it’s perfect for event shopping because you know you’ll   be the only one in that outfit!

Yummy almond croissants and other buttery baked treats.

HOT: Suzuki Night Market, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

Suzuki Night Market Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

For me summer in Melbourne heralds long bright evenings, Moonlight Cinema and the Suzuki Night Market at Queen Victoria Market. Evidently I’m not alone as the night market has become a bit of a summer institution for young and old alike and in peak time (between 6-8pm) the crowds swell to almost uncomfortable levels.

Nevertheless, it’s still an experience which is very enjoyable. The huge numbers of milling locals and tourists lend an excited vibrancy to the atmosphere and there’s live music on all night encompassing all sorts of genres and giving the kiddies a chance to bop. As an after work activity nothing beats strolling around having nothing on your mind other than what to eat from the plethora of fragrant food stalls.

Suzuki Night Market Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

After our food reconnaisance, I stalked a table until seats became free (a rarity) while A went to the vegan stall for a curry plate, and then I went to the stall selling food from Trinidad and Tobago, a cuisine with which I’m definitely not familiar. The options were a chickpea dish, Bake and Shark and some form of fried chicken with a spicy sauce (sorry hazy memory). A last minute decision had me choosing the Bake and Shark ($12) and the friendly lady behind the counter assured me that I would love it.

Suzuki Night Market Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

Yes, bake and shark does usually contain deep-fried shark, although I’m not certain how easy it is to source shark in Australia, so it might have been some other firm white fish in this case. The ‘bake’ refers to the sort of bun holding it all together, which is apparently made from roti flour that is fried in certain shapes to make the bread. My bake and shark was accompanied by a slice of pineapple, some salad and spoonfuls of various colourful sauces which I couldn’t distinguish. As far as mass-produced pre-cooked food goes, this was pretty good and I’d easily pick it again.

Suzuki Night Market Queen Victoria Market Melbourne

For dessert, so much choice! I decided to go for the honey puffs as I’m a real sucker for sweet deep fried dough and bought a plate of huge doughnuts drizzled with honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. This is definitely a dessert to be shared and good value for $6.

After our meals we wandered around the other non-food stalls. The mix of sellers was truly bizarre, ranging from cheap tat like sunglasses and imported plastic toys to on-the-spot hair extensions, wall vinyls, vintage clothes and the ubiquitous fisherman pants.

I can’t say I’d recommend the Suzuki Night Market for the shopping or even necessarily the quality of the food – but you’ll still love it for the vibe and the chance to soak in the long summer hours with your friends and family.

HOT: 84 Smith Street, 84 Smith St, Collingwood

I love to catch up on my window-shopping at 84 Smith Street. This vintage collectables and furniture shop has a constant rotation of eye-catching items in its storefront, from a plastic drinks-serving robot to mid-century Danish dining chairs to old-fashioned metal filing cabinets. Wendy Dracoulis and her husband only sell pieces that they like and they source their products from everywhere and anywhere.

While the furniture is always droolworthy in the store, on my most recent visit, these smaller items caught my eye:

84 Smith Street Collingwood

A huge industrial lamp and other cool anodised lamp shades.

84 Smith Street Collingwood

A butcher’s meat labels ($2 each). I loved these but couldn’t think of a use for them – any ideas? There were also some old-fashioned price tags on sticks which probably came from the same source.

84 Smith Street Collingwood

The store has a penchant for taxidermy, including lots of stuffed birds and a pair of hugely tall peacocks which presided over the windows for a while.

84 Smith Street Collingwood

If any of my wedding guests are out there reading this, please note that while we don’t have a gift registry we would very much appreciate this white orbit lamp ($120) *grin* It will go very nicely with our reproduction Le Corbusier chaise lounge and provide us of many happy memories of your generosity!

For other vintage stores in the area, check out Lost and Found Market, Angelucci and Industria (202 Gertude St Fitzroy).

HOT: Melbourne Op Shop Tours (Part 2), Inner West, Williamstown to Footscray

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Read Part 1 of the tour here.

Another quick train ride to Spotswood then St John’s Op Shop (612-614 Melbourne Rd, Spotswood). ‘Great variety of household goods’ is an accurate description, with ‘variety’ being the operative word. This is an OCD sufferer’s nightmare.

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The rabbit warren of a shop was full of surprises – an extensive collection of white shoes (apparently a local shoe store closed down and donated all of their stock), a veritable forest of clothing (another vintage scarf to add to my collection $5), a jumble of furniture out the back and boxes of haberdashery hidden away under shelves groaning with discarded VHS tapes – including this gem ‘A New Tax System – “How To Series””. Any buyers? Anyone?

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1pm and a well-earned lunch stop at Cafe Miers (85 Hudsons Rd, Spotswood). This light and airy cafe serves Fairtrade coffee and simple cafe fare – toasted sandwiches/foccacias, pastries and muffins. I’m not sure it’s worth a special trip but it served our purposes well as we replenished our dimishing energy reserves and compared purchases.

Heave ho to Yarraville for Bargain Browser (9 Anderson St, Yarraville +61 3 9687 6307). This was a queer beast, stocking a mix between dollar shop junk and genuine op shop items. I wasn’t much inspired by the racks of Bridget Jones style grandma underpants and boxes of scented candles, but I did spot an unworn pair of Aldo canary yellow stilettos in my size. How could I resist, they were only $15!

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Last stop, Footscray Salvos (199 Barkly St, Footscray +61 3 9689 7811) and then the Savers (The Recycle Superstore!) for those with more energy (33 Albert St, Footscray +61 3 9689 6811). Footsore and laden with purchases, I decided to forego the Savers and only go went to the Salvos, where I picked up a copy of Alan Hollinghurst’s 2004 Booker prize winner ‘The Line of Beauty’ for $4.

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I can definitely see the appeal of  Melbourne Op Shop Tours for those of us who are not dedicated op shoppers. The tour combined a large variety of op shops, from well known superstores to undiscovered nooks, and with Jenny as our organised tour guide the whole trip ran very smoothly.   I think everyone went home with a bargain and ended the day on a happy note. Best of all, we helped a lot of charities on the way!

PS Here’s a pic of my $15 yellow shoes, matched with a Cylk dress from Eco Fashionista. Unexpected colour combination, but I think it works!

Eco Fashionista Cylk Melbourne Op Shop Tours

HOT: Melbourne Op Shop Tours, Inner West, Williamstown to Footscray

Melbourne op shop tours

Fashionistas know that the surest way to score a one-of-a-kind outfit is to scour old shops and vintage stores. Melbourne Op Shop Tours helps you take up the op shop challenge by running small group (max 10 people) tours through various areas of Melbourne. What makes it different from other op shop tours is that instead of being herded around on a big coach, the service is more personal and the tour is conducted with the careful coordination of public transport timetables – which means that your recycled shopping experience is super eco-friendly.

Melbourne Op Shop Tours invited me to one of their tours to experience it for myself, and I decided to follow tour guide Jenny along to the Inner West – a completely unknown part of Melbourne as far as I was concerned.

Starting at 10am at North Williamstown station, we headed to the Williamstown Uniting Church Op Shop (75 Stevedore St, Williamstown +61 3 9397 8066). The first thing I spotted inside this tiny op shop were some Number 14 bentwood chairs. The hooped back chair was designed by Michael Thonet in the 19th century and is now a design classic, to be found in many cafes. The two chairs remaining from the original set of eight cost $5 each! I was so excited that I could have gone home right there and then, mission accomplished.

Melbourne op shop tours

A quick train ride to Newport then a stroll through suburban streets to the Newport Neighbourhood House and Opportunity Shop (40 Challis Avenue, Newport +61 417 032 617). Jenny’s favourite op shop is easy to miss because it just looks like your standard low-set weatherboard house. But now I’m sharing the secret with you – enter through the garden gate and you’ll find yourself in the biggest jumble sale of your life. It would take hours to sift through the rooms of men’s clothes, kid’s clothes, shoes, glassware, kitchenware, toys and women’s clothes – we’re talking mountains, tables, shelves and boxes of stuff everywhere you look.

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A little overwhelmed, I decided to focus on women’s scarves and came away with three to my liking ($1 each) while also picking up a silver cake stand ($5) and small cut glass ice bucket ($5).

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In a feat of op-shopping strength, one of our tour members Nathan (an intrepid and experienced op shopper) decided to tip out the whole box of ties in order to do a thorough sorting on the floor. In the end, he came away with 47 ties ($1 each) which included designer ties from YSL and Versace. What does a man do with that many ties? Nathan’s strategy is to wear them all once, clean them up and sell them on eBay for around $10-$15 each. So even if you’re not necessarily into the charity aspect of op shopping, it seems that with a bit of effort it can be a lucrative hobby.

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Also, check out these fabulous, unworn shoes found on top of the mountain of shoes spilling out from under the verandah. These beautiful heels cost $2. I’m so jealous!

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This was easily the winning shop for me – it’s so good that if you’re a keen op shopper, it’s worth making a trip especially to carefully work your way through the house.

Read more about the rest of the tour tomorrow in Part 2.