Hidden in basements, upstairs or behind unmarked doors – these iconic shops are home to some of the city’s most colourful retail characters. Can you really call yourself a Melburnian if you haven’t paid them a visit?
The Paperback Bookshop
One of Melbourne’s most iconic book stores, The Paperback Bookshop has been a champion of the independent book scene since the 1960s. Next door to the also legendary Pellegrini’s, The Paperback is open until 10pm weeknights and 11pm Fridays and Saturdays. Grab a coffee, browse the bookshelves and lose yourself among the pages of the literary greats.
City Hatters is one of the few Melbourne shops that can boast being in the same location for over 100 years. Trading since 1910 at Flinders Street station, this one-stop hat shop has been owned by the Buck family for most of its 119-year history. Venture beneath the clocks at Flinders Street station to discover the extensive range of hats and caps as well as seasonally curated selections of Panamas, tweeds and trilbies.
Hearn’s opened its doors in 1947. The Hearn brothers, all World War Two pilots, wanted to share their hobby collection with other enthusiasts. 60 years later, Hearns Hobbies still offers a range of hard-to-find items that would make even the pickiest hobbyist happy.
Christine on Collins
Tucked away at the Paris end of Collins St, Christine’s is a city shopping icon that has been around for decades. Owner Christine Barro was once a buyer for Georges department store, bringing Prada and Fendi to Australia in the 1970s. Christine is dedicated to sourcing the world’s best, most unique items and bringing them to Melbourne. Where else would you find skincare brands from the 12th century by Dominican monks next to glimmering Lanvin jewellery?
Located in a basement on Flinders Lane, and almost invisible from the street, e.g.etal is a major player in Melbourne’s thriving jewellery design scene. Celebrating their 21st birthday this year and selling work from over 60 Australian and New Zealand designers, e.g.etal is a treasure trove of uncommon contemporary creations.
A favourite among Melburnians, Readings has been a Carlton icon for over 40 years. It began life as a tiny stand-alone shop in 1969 and in the days before the internet Melburnians would cluster at the shop window to view ads for share houses. And don’t miss their Lygon Street neighbours Readings Kids – like a cerebral playground for little minds.
Basement Discs, the legendary record shop and lunchtime live performance spot, celebrated their 25th birthday this year. With the whole world moving towards streaming music that’s no mean feat! The knowledgeable staff and vast array of CDs, DVDs and music-related books keep their loyal customer base coming back year after year.
Meaning ‘cabinet of curiosities’ in German, Wunderkammer is no ordinary gift shop. It’s home to everything rare, unusual and unique in Melbourne. Find treasures ranging from Megalodon shark teeth and meteorites to brightly-coloured framed butterflies and rare antique scientific equipment.
For as long as there have been geeks in Melbourne, there’s been Minotaur Entertainment. Literally underground, it’s a basement full of toys, magazines, posters, action figures, nerdy novelties and more. Whether you’re into Doctor Who or manga, want a Rick and Morty T-shirt or a BB-8 bottle opener, you’ll find it here.
Evan’s Leather Repair
Evan’s has been proudly developing a tradition of fine workmanship for over 60 years in the Royal Arcade. The company was founded by Evan Skliros, better known within the Arcade as “Mr Evans”, a highly renowned leather craftsman. This boutique workshop offers traditional shoe repairs, leather restoration, waterproofing, cleaning, recolouring and alterations for boots, heels, leather clothes, bags and all types of leather accessories.