Retail ‘Hip’ discovered in ‘Ip’ (who knew?!)


If taking a day trip out of Brisbane I assume most people, as a general rule, head North or South. Last Wednesday I headed West. Upon announcing to anyone who would listen that I was "off to Ipswich" I was met with a similar range of reactions (rolling eyeballs, "WTF?" and "AYKM?!" being the most common response) but, being an optimist and relatively new to this part of the world, I shrugged it off and went on my way.

Firstly, I am pleased to report the doubters were wrong!  Secondly, you only need a few hours and not a full day (it's about a 30 min drive from inner Brissy). Once you've taken in the views of gorgeous old Queenslanders and historical buildings I suggest you head straight past the 'WTF' and right on into the 'Top of Town' (home to a small cluster of on-trend shops and cafes).

Pictured above is Stuart Ellis's treasure trove of old and new furniture, objects and art. Fabulous finds like imported windows from Paris and restored iron gates from Egypt sit along side locally made artisan book cases and the like. This old plumber's shed is mostly made up of retail, but venture to the very back and you will find the workshop where restoration of precious pieces is also part of the story.

After doing retail time in Brissy (Tennerife), the move to Ipswich by ES Traders is a clue that the town is undergoing somewhat of a retail renaissance being lead by Stuart and a sprinkling of seriously stylish neighbours. I'll be heading back for a coffee at the mod little cafe that sits at the start of the lane, do a little more snooping and see what new surprises he has in store.

You can find ES Traders in Bon Laneway, 17C Ellenborough Street. Open 10.00 - 3.00 Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Mondays.

A few doors up you will find the Traders newest neighbour, Faded Empire offering a small range of women's designer labels (think Maison Scotch etc), some striking costume jewellery (Ghost & Lola etc), Kantha lampshades from India and other wares for the home. The owners description is 'a contemporary store with an old soul' which sums it up perfectly. Love their logo too.

POD_faded empire_Ipswich

Just around the corner on Brisbane Street Cultiver offers a youthful mix of vintage, indie designer homewares (some fab screen printed tea towels and the like), slightly kooky accessories, quirky crocheted cacti and hand made greeting cards.  There is a lot more to this store but that is my immediate recall as I sit and tap this out late in the evening a week later.

POD_Brisbane St_Ipswich_Cultiver

A few doors further up the street you can take a snoop through some second hand treasures. In addition to the scent of  'must & moth balls' I am sure you could sniff out a bargain or two at Lutveys.

POD_Brisbane St_Ipswich

By now you are just about at the top of the town. Province is a retail front for an interior design business and a nice addition to the neighbourhood.


Once you have had your fill of homewares etc. I suggest you walk over the road to The Fourth Child for a coffee, brunch, lunch or whatever. Mother of three and owner, Amanda Robertson, had an established following for her cakes which she sold through market stalls but from what I can gather she was not content with mere baking and babies (or having enough on her  plate obviously??). She went on to have her 'fourth child' and by doing so branched out from baking to an all day cafe model with a paddock to plate / locavore (100 mile / 160km radius), sustainable, 'do the right thing' type ethos. It appears to be working.  The 'child' was on it's best behaviour when patrons packed the place out last Wednesday lunchtime.  My count of 'bums on seats' suggests that the locals really like it.

POD_4TH CHILD_IPPY I have to admit my expectations for finding retail inspiration in Ipswich were low. I love it when I am taken by surprise (which is something of a challenge when you have been looking at retail for as long as I have!).  Thanks to all the fine Top of Town people I spoke to and letting me share my version of their story.


Oh Boy

POD_bing boy_melb central Bing Boy is a newbie on the quick service food scene. It is the Asian version of a French Creperie. Omelette is cooked to order, filled with yummy things like BBQ duck, cucumber, sweet & sour carrot, salad and hoisin sauce, then wrapped and it's good to go. I particularly like the clean graphics and easy to read menu format. Look for it on the lower / station level at Melbourne Central.

Seek & Find

POD personal update POD peeps from around the globe have sent the occasional email over the past year enquiring as to why my blogging has slowed down? Those who know me, already know I have been limping for 18 months and am now 6 months post surgery (a total foot reconstruction if you don't mind).  The reality is if you can't walk you don't look, and if you don't look you don't find. The surgeon says another 6 months until I can really start snooping seriously again. So there you have it (and yes, that is the X-ray of my foot with the 'bolt' that is now holding it together - looks like I have had a nasty accident on a building site!).  In the meantime, if you're a designer and have done something fabulous then feel free to flick me a photo file.


Fun Way Finding

POD_QV_column Loving Kat Chadwicks line work. It gives this column some cute street cred. Spotted at QV, Swanston Street Melbourne.

VM Melbourne

Entry Statement

POD_FRONT FENCE MELB Vertical gardens have sprouted all over retail land in recent years.This front fence caught my eye recently. It's the first time I've seen the idea in a domestic format. Spied through the car window in Armadale, Melbourne.

VM Melbourne

The Cool Cobbler

POD_Cobbler_SH Arch I came across this fabulous shoe repair store sometime last year (and obviously forgot to share it with you ... better late than never I say!). Some really honest design work by architects Stewart Hollenstein. If you're in need of a new sole you will have to head to Sydney, 29 Darlinghurst Road Potts Point to be exact. Images via retaildesignblog

Miss Chu x 2 (Melbourne)

POD_Miss Chu_Sth Yarra I met Nahji (a.k.a Miss Chu) a few years ago at her first tuckshop off William Street in Sydney. Since then she has evolved the concept considerably and now has outlets in both Sydney and Melbourne (and has sold Miss Chu licenses into New York, London, Paris and the rest of the country according to the fabulously flamboyant floor boy in the South Yarra store). It was good when I bit into the first rice paper roll and remains so.  Retail evolution and store growth is not an easy road so I am more than delighted to report the brand and offer is better than ever (particularly love the graphic and store design direction too ... it's honest and on trend).  Kano Hollamby is the designer for this South Yarra store (happy snaps above).  Bring on Brisbane and the rest of the country I say!

Miss Chu Food Melbourne

Stick ’em up!


POD peeps have been up ladders late at night again. This month we transformed blank construction walls into colourful compositions for DFO South Wharf. Adding some interest to the long lengths of vinyl were 3D pizzas, donuts and sushi in the food court. Upstairs the Homemaker level was given a mid-century make over and decorated with 3D home wares. Big thanks to all the install lads and our lovely client Jess Harney. POD is v. pleased with the total transformation (if we do say so ourselves!).