“Hipster”, “very Melbourne” – these are the phrases typically thrown at Braddon’s newest hot spot, Lonsdale Street Traders. Although a temporary space – it will eventually make way for a six-story development – the old tire warehouse-turned-independent retail space is described by owner Nick Bullum as a chance for local businesses and designers to establish themselves on the iconic street. After hours fossicking through the industrial space, framed by white walls and miss-matched lampshades hanging from red ceiling beams, one thing is clear – Lonsdale Street Traders is much more than its cliches. Eclectic, friendly and oozing with coolness, it’s a unique side to Canberra the locals love and the tourists can only hope they’ll stumble across.
For fans of the original Lonsdale Street store once nestled across the road, walking into the revamped itrip iskip is like stumbling across a hidden gem. The popular six-year-old business has grown with its owners, Diana and Ana Derek, into a more understated style of clothing and interior design. But the stylish sisters haven’t crossed the street without bringing the store’s trademark quirkiness along for the ride. A large cockatoo greets passers-by from the shop front and teal-painted lattice brightens up the neutral palette inside. Boasting labels like Dr Denim and the popular new Vanishing Elephant, the clothes and accessories are unique and splashed with colour. At the same time, they’re wearable and can easily be worked into an existing wardrobe.
Co-owner Diana, who has worked in retail since she was 15 years old, says the evolved style of clothing has attracted a broader, slightly older demographic but hasn’t lost its energy. “We’ve always been a bit different and we want people to be able to dress creatively,” she says. “Why we opened was to give something different – you’re paying for something unique. You’re not going to have 50 people wearing the same top.”
Like the cloud of pastel colours dripping along the store’s white walls, Wildwood is a pretty, eclectic mix of fashion, music and art. Co-owned by fashion designer Sara Wurcker and music producer and enthusiast Tim Guthrie, the store acts as both a studio for creating Sara’s label, Hunter, and a retail space to showcase Sara’s clothes, Tim’s unique collection of vinyls and an array of jewelry, magazines and stationary. Sara describes her label as modern and wearable without being too trendy or disposable. “I’m interested in something that will last – that you remember buying and may eventually give to someone else,” she says. And trawling through the store’s many treasures, you can’t help but imagine each unique item being cherished by someone for many years to come.
Fashion enthusiasts often reflect on the days when clothes were stitched with greater precision and attention to detail. And the nostalgic Frith Street is the perfect spot to find a quality one-off vintage dress from yesteryear. With an architect father and seamstress mother, it’s no surprise that owner Ruby Barnett is a keen collector of stylish, well-made clothes. Her bold, unique pieces, sourced from all over the globe, are both affordable and in mint condition. With a number of dresses also sewn by Ruby’s mother and sizes ranging from six to 18, there’s no risk of pouring your pennies into the perfect dress, only to turn up to a formal or wedding in the same outfit as someone else.
Velvet Lane is equal parts warm and exclusive. The cosy boutique store is filled with one-off paintings, revamped second-hand furniture and, of course, racks of beautiful designer clothing. And it’s the clothes that set the store apart. Boasting a slew of exclusive Australia designers and international labels, including House of Holland, Ellery and Romance Was Born, customers are sure to find a unique gem. “We have some really interesting, exclusive brands and we don’t stock millions of each,” store owner Maud Rowe says. Although the store’s major focus is on the web – all orders are processed online – Velvet Lane is the perfect space to try before you buy.
Side-stepping the ubiquitous blow-dried, Ghd-styled hair of today, Rare Hair is all about hair less done. The unique salon is the latest endeavour by Next Hair owner Adam Noble, however, the prominent Canberran is less involved with his new business, preferring to let his team of like-minded hairdressers establish themselves in the new store.
Rare Hair’s Matthew Whitaker, Patrick Labour and Tara Walker share a wealth of experience and an enthusiasm for creating wearable, manageable styles. “We follow the philosophy of working with the natural fall and movement of hair,” Patrick says. “It’s creating something that looks good on you rather than a trend.” And with a new do that doesn’t require copious amounts of heat or product, customers can walk away with a head of hair that not only looks great, but will be much healthier for it.
Hive² is like a blank canvas splashed with pops of colour. Long tables house all sorts of quirky, colourful knick knacks and stationary that beg to be lifted and turned over. But unlike its popular parent store, Hive, located a few shops down Lonsdale Street, Hive² is a step away from the home wares its predecessor is best-known for. Owner Louise Amato says the second store is the perfect way to expand the product range while offering customers something different. And at Hive², it’s all about the funky paper goods. The products are unusual and fun with a touch of vintage. From quirky figurines to cute polka dot notebooks, a gift from Hive² is likely to brighten any dull office space.
A statue of Jesus standing next to a large world map with a backdrop of deer antlers – Elseware may very well be the coolest shed in the world. And for owner and head scavenger Lorenzo D’Ambrosio, foraging for the vintage and industrial curios scattered throughout the store is in his blood. “My parents were always looking at weird and interesting things,” he says. “My main joy is treasure-hunting – finding weird, more curious items out there and bringing them to Canberra.” Brimming with vintage furniture and home wares, figurines, taxidermy birds and many more oddly endearing objects, Elseware is the one-stop shop for that unique addition to your home that will have guests talking.
Moxom & Whitney
If you’re a bride-to-be seeking a plump bouquet of perfectly primped white roses, stop and quietly back out the door – you’re at the wrong florist. At Moxom & Whitney, it’s all about creating something different and personal.
In a way, stepping into the store is like sneaking into your grandparents’ shed – the wood-lined walls are earthy and warm and flowers sit cosily in buckets. But it’s much cooler here. Bouquets are an eclectic mix of flowers far from you stock standard bunch. However, it’s the terrariums – think a cross between a fishbowl and a garden – that are the real draw card. They really are a world of their own within a glass bowl.
Owners and best friends Lou Lou and Belinda, who share 15 years’ worth of experience in the floral industry, are a hoot and can cover weddings, corporate events, advanced orders and event styling. Lou Lou sums up the business – and Lonsdale St Traders – best: “think of every cool nana and pop and all their sheds with all their treasures together – all that’s missing is a slightly dry lamington.”
You can’t walk through Lonsdale Street Traders without at least one business owner or customer raving about Sweet Bones’ iconic green smoothie. And the fruity lime-green drink, served in a retro milkshake tumbler, sums up the heart of the 100 per cent vegan cafe – fresh, tasty and full of goodness.
Whether you're vegan, vegetarian or just looking for a quality bite, Sweet Bones is the perfect place to find a tasty treat. With a large focus on sourcing local, organic food, you’re also treating the environment and the community. “We focus on quality ingredients as the building blocks for good meals,” says Russell Brindley, who owns the café with wife Emily.
From muffins and sandwiches to fresh coconuts with a straw, there’s something for everyone on the menu. And if you’ve got the time, eat (or drink) among the mismatched vintage furniture outside the store – the best spot in Traders to soak up the creative hub’s energy.
Steve’s Speed Shop
Steve’s Speed Shop is more than just a workshop – for owner Steven Callahan it’s a passion. “I’m very passionate about bicycles as an environmental solution,” he says. The bike expert and enthusiast had been running a garage for a couple of years before moving his business to Lonsdale Street. “It’s very much a street I wanted to be on because it’s the epicentre of Canberra’s history,” he says. “There have been bike shops on Lonsdale Street for 30 to 40 years or more.” And with Steve’s knowledge plus an array of bike bits and bobs lining the workshop walls, Steve’s Speed Shop is a convenient stop-off to service your bike.