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Rediscover Melbourne’s most iconic shops

These iconic shops are home to some of the city’s most colourful retail characters. Now that you can visit again, get out to uncover and rediscover Melbourne’s local gems.

The Paperback Bookshop

The Paperback Bookshop has been a champion of the independent book scene since the 1960s. Next door to the also legendary Pellegrini’s, this gorgeous spot is open again for Melbourne lit heads. Browse the bookshelves and lose yourself among the pages of literary greats.

The extrerior of an old fashioned bookshop on a busy street

The Paperback Bookshop

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. Dedicated to sourcing the world’s best, she brings unique items from her travels to Melbourne. Where else would you find brands started in the 12th century by Dominican monks next to glimmering Lanvin jewellery?

City Hatters

City Hatters is one of the few Melbourne shops that can boast being in the same location for over 100 years. Trading since 1910, this one-stop hat shop has been owned by the Buck family for most of its history. Venture beneath Flinders Street station and discover their range of head wear, from tweeds to trilbies. Open Monday to Saturday.

The exterior of a shop at night with a large red neon sign

City Hatters

Hearn’s Hobbies

Hearn’s opened its doors in 1947. As a family of World War Two pilots, the Hearn brothers wanted to share their hobby collection with other enthusiasts. Over 70 years later, Hearn’s offers a range of rare items that would please even the pickiest hobbyist.

Readings

A favourite among word nerds across the city, Readings has been a Carlton icon for over 40 years. It began life as a tiny solo shop in 1969. In the pre-internet era Melburnians would even cluster at the window to view ads for share houses. Don’t miss their Lygon Street neighbours Readings Kids – a cerebral playground for little minds.

Readings Kids

Clementines

Home to handmade Victorian produce and products, everything in Clementine’s is charmingly local. Pick up rooftop honey, street art inspired gifting, fierce fashion and more. Snap a pic with the orange Vespa on your way out to make your visit even more iconic.

An orange vespa outside a shop

Clementines. Photo by Grace Petrou for What’s On.

e.g.etal

Located in a basement on Flinders Lane, almost invisible from the street, e.g.etal is a major player in Melbourne’s thriving jewellery scene. Selling work from over 60 Australian and New Zealand designers, e.g.etal is a treasure trove of uncommon creations. Pay them a visit when they reopen on 3 November.

Gewurzhaus

Celebrating 10 years in June, the Lygon Street outpost of Gewurzhaus is the shop that put their name on the map. And the iconic spice merchants have been mixing up unique small batch blends ever since. Like their brand new, on trend vegan chicken salt – made right here in Melbourne.

A white and brown exterior of a small shop in a sunny street

Gewurzhaus in Carlton

Metropolis Bookshop

Curtin House has been around for nearly 100 years, housing everything from a dubious ‘strangers room’ to the Communist Party. Less controversial but just as cool, Metropolis Bookshop hides on its third floor. Word nerds have long loved this curated selection of books on art, design, music and film.

Wunderkammer

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 from shark teeth and meteorites to antique science equipment.

The inside of a busy shop

Wunderkammer

Rocksteady Records

Rocksteady Records offers good grooves, vinyl, turntables and more – with a fierce local focus. Find your way up the art deco dream that is Mitchell House and treat yourself to new releases and indie wax. Ask local legend Pat for record recs if you just can’t choose.

Pollon Flowers

Pollon Flowers is one of Melbourne’s most beautiful shops. Blessed with a superbly photogenic location behind Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral, they’ve just reopened after a lockdown hiatus. The ever-changing window displays are always gorgeously, daringly creative, and it’s just as pretty inside.

The exterior of a corner shop with people walking past

Pollon Flowers

Retrostar

A walk through this hidden retro emporium is something of a right of passage for every Melburnian. Retrostar Vintage Clothing is filled with items from the 1940s – 1990s, from band tees to ball gowns. Mingle with ageing punks, vintage clad teens and curious newbies as you browse.

Bluebell bridal Flinders Lane

When restrictions eased, wedding bells started ringing again for hopeful couples after months of postponed plans. You’ll find plenty of them perusing the wares at Bluebell Bridal, tucked away in Flinders Lane. Along with an enviable location in one of the city’s most beloved laneways, Bluebell also boasts gorgeous brands like Alex Perry, Maticevski and Rebecca Vallance. Plus local gems like Popovski and Prea James. Bluebell is currently taking one guest at a time for 90 minute personal stylist sessions.

Queen Victoria Market

Haven’t we envied Melburnians with a central postcode? They’ve been able to shop at Queen Victoria Market during the past few months. Now that lockdown has dialled right back, we’ll be beating a path to the market’s fresh produce stalls and Dairy Hall delis. Then off to sip a coffee on the go from Market Lane while snacking on gozleme from the Borek Bakehouse. All with our loot from the specialty shopping stalls in tow.

A large old building on a sunny day

Meet you at the market