A grassroots movement is revitalising the until-now neglected Scullin shops, one coffee at a time.
Scullin Traders officially opens for business this weekend, a bright and welcoming shop that is being staffed entirely by community volunteers in a concerted bid to get people back to the shops.
There are small traders in the store, along with supermarket basics such as milk, bread and eggs and "comfy couches" to sit and enjoy a coffee from brother-and-sister team Nathalia and Diego Barragan, from Cafe Bolivar.
The shop - or "community enterprise hub" - will be open from 8am to 6pm daily, operating from a converted section of a wholesale bakery.
Scullin neighbours Sue White and Rachel Howard knew they had to do something to save the shops, which suffered even further with the closure of the supermarket more than a year ago - albeit a supermarket "better known for exporting baby formula and ugg boots than providing milk and bread".
"People in Scullin really love the community, they're really connected and they were fairly despairing of the state of the shops," Sue said.
"There was one corner that did well. The hairdresser is busy and the op shop is fabulous but they're not high-traffic businesses.
"People who've lived here for 25, 30 years kept telling us about the time when the Scullin shops was the place to be.
"So about six months ago Rachel and I said 'You know what? We're going to do it. We're going to change the vibe of the shops.'"
They initially (half-)joked that they just wanted someone where they could get a good coffee after the walk home from school drop-off.
But coffee did turn out to be a turning point. The community enlisted Cafe Bolivar, who also had a van at the Florey shops, to set up in Scullin about a month ago. Emily Brindley from Sweet Bones Bakery and Cafe also added her expertise to the project.
The effect was almost immediate, with people drawn to the shops to get a coffee, just as it's hoped they'll keep coming in numbers to get their milk - and also all manner of gifts just in time for Mother's Day on May 12.
There are also plans to hold creative workshops in the space after hours. Volunteers are on a roster with the hope of opening seven days a week.
"We're trying to be a shop, a coffee shop, community hub and a supermarket, all within 39 square metres," Sue said.
The traders in the shop contribute to the $250 per week rent. Costs are also being met by residents becoming patrons and donating as little as $5 a month. The traders so far include an indoor plant nursery, florist and jeweller, as well as ceramics. The Scullin Traders also received a one-off $5000 grant from the Chief Minister's Fund to help get it off the ground.
Murals and garden beds are also on their way.
There will be a community celebration at the shops next Saturday, May 11, with the usual opening time of 8am but also music and celebrations from 4pm to 8pm.