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Melbourne pops up with a social conscience


Two local pop up businesses are providing grass-roots community support…

At the start of May we posted the story of HoMie, who were looking for a location to host their first pop up shop. At the time their concept was to sell T-shirts and designer clothing, passing the profits over to local homeless services around Melbourne. During the day the store would be open to the public… after hours they’d invite homeless people in to distribute food and care packages, clothing and support services. Their quest received quite a lot of media attention, and no doubt the team from HoMie worked hard on the pop up shop concept. Within a couple of weeks they found a space within the Melbourne CBD, and soon after began thanking various supporters who’d come on board… Target Australia donated shopfittings, Snowgum and Cotton On pledged apparel and many others joined in (listed on their Facebook post 27th June)

The HoMie pop up store opened at Melbourne Central last Sunday. They’ll be trading 7 days a week at least ’till the end of July… maybe longer. It seems their retail concept has evolved over the past weeks… for every item sold to the public another will be donated to a homeless person, who’ll be invited to attend a special shopping event – treated as a VIP customer, offered life-skills and employment workshops… and a free haircut.

Another business doing good things around our community is Lentil as Anything – established 13 years ago as a not-for-profit organisation with a “pay as you feel” philosophy. There are now 4 Lentil as Anything restaurants in Melbourne (and 1 in Newtown, Sydney), each providing vegetarian meals and asking patrons to pay what they think the food is worth (or what they can afford…), placing cash into an honesty box at the end of the meal. In case you’re not quite sure what might be appropriate… they do list a few suggestions, based on your appreciation or ability to pay…$15 pays all expenses, $12 will cover the meal cost – or you could pay just $5 (and what about volunteering to help, to make up the rest ?) This “unique financial model” does attract some interesting customers… many mainstream restaurant go-ers but also people who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to eat out and be social.

A few weeks ago the Lentil as Anything restaurant in High Street Preston caught fire, nothing too major but enough to close the kitchen for several weeks whilst repairs are made. Within days they’d found and opened a temporary space to operate as a pop-up restaurant, thanks to a rally of support from customers (including a $4500 donation from a single member of the public). Which seemed a great result for Lentil’s customers – until a neighbouring business complained… The owner of the shop next door posted a comment on her Facebook page which was not received too well… essentially unhappy about the cigarette smoke wafting into her food store from the pop-up customers waiting outside (but also quite disparaging of Lentil’s clients). The post was shared widely and attracted some nasty responses – I guess that’s to be expected these days. It was quickly deleted and the food store owner extended her apologies !

The Lentil as Anything pop-up restaurant is now open at 827 High Street Northcote

The HoMie pop up shop is at shop 247, level 2 of Melbourne Central (LaTrobe Street end)


sources: Concrete / HoMie & Herald Sun Leader / Lentil as Anything


HoMie    HoMie Melbourne Central 1    HoMie Melbourne Central 3    HoMie Melbourne Central 2    Lentil as Anything

images: Homie, Homeless of Melbourne & Google Images / Lentil as Anything

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