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What’s up in Smith Street ?


Every now and then I go out for a wander…. park the car (or the tram…) and just take a slow stroll. The purpose is to see first-hand whats up around the popular shopping precincts of Melbourne, especially those which are also creative or pop up destinations. It’s been a while since my last pop-up stroll (oops, not since May last year…)

Last week I ventured south to north (and back again) along Smith Street (Fitzroy to Collingwood) which is pretty-much 1.5kms of wall-to-wall retail. Visitors to Smith Street experience fashionable and eclectic designer outlets and galleries at the city end, which gradually morph into a thriving street culture of cafes, bookstores, barbers (and pawn shops) around the middle, ‘till finally there’s the bargain-hunter’s paradise of brand outlet stores towards the north… And the nice thing is that most spaces along the street are currently tenanted and open… along the whole stretch I counted just 8 “for lease” signs. Smith Street has had a bit of a colourful history… around 10 years ago it had a sorry reputation with the prolific drunks and drug dealers… but recently it seems to have settled down a bit (last year Time Out Melbourne announced that “Smith Street has just become the most searingly-hot dining destination in Melbourne”) – and I’d say the precinct is about to undergo even more cultural change.

There are currently several large apartment buildings underway – which will not only bring new (and moneyed) residents to the immediate area – but some of those developments will also feature retail and hospitality opportunities. It will be interesting to see if the current mix of traders (and the down-to-earth street culture) survive in a renewed Smith Street… the additional foot traffic will surely attract more cafes and bars (‘though there are loads of great venues already). Hopefully the new ‘street will also host more pop up retail – there are certainly loads of shoppers already (if the forest of banks and ATMs is anything to go by !)

And just around the corner from Smith Street is one of my favourite niche shopping strips. The iconic Gertrude Street is still home to a colourful array of smart fashion and millinery stores (that’s good to know, with the Spring Racing Carnival almost upon us !) – mostly smaller, creative and personable labels nestled amongst the prolific cafes. Gertrude Street is a tightly-held precinct – but last week there was a retail vacancy at #102 (‘though not for long, I’d imagine…)


Featured image : Smith Street –


Smith Street - The


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