Melbourne is brimming with gift shops to suit even the fussiest of tastes. Offering everything from candles and homewares to designer accessories and even cheeky novelty books and cards, these stores know how to cater for every occasion, making your task a whole lot easier. What’s even handier about these local favourites is that they have no minimum spend on card purchases.
Whether you’re going to a baby shower, birthday party or wedding, this Malvern East gift boutique has you covered. Light timber fittings provide a minimalist setting for a kaleidoscope of colourful homewares, body products, knitwear, scarves, bags and baskets, cookbooks and toys, all made by local and international designers. It pays to visit Turner and Lane’s Facebook page for a regular update on new brands in the store; recent favourites include lightweight raincoats from Danish designers Rains Raincoats and terracotta serving bowls by Stephanie Alexander’s homewares range. Visiting the meticulously dressed shop is also a great way to pick up home décor ideas, and the friendly staff are more than happy to help you pick out the right pieces to beautify every room of your house.
This ain’t your average souvenir shop. Forget thoughts of plush kangaroos and Australian flags; this boutique – founded as a pop-up in 2011 by a group of Melbourne creatives – stocks beautiful objects and books made exclusively by local designers. Take your local pride to the next level with limited edition prints of famous landmarks around Melbourne or vintage posters (our favourites are Art Deco-style illustrations of buildings like the NGV and the Manchester Building), gift your friends with the incredibly detailed Buildings of Melbourne Colouring Book or buy your out-of-town buddy beautiful pieces of jewellery.
Fun, quirky design at accessible prices is the go at Monsterthreads – a series of gift shops that began as stalls at several Sydney markets. Regular customers love Monsterthreads for the brand’s signature animal designs, which pop up on necklaces, men’s and women’s clothing and wallets; think robot pandas, sailor cats, bears in dapper suits and busking sharks. Aussie designers are well represented too, with everything from cute cycling accessories by Beep Bicycle Bells to statement socks by Happy Socks. Price-conscious gift buyers can walk away with cute candle holders, notebooks and brooches for under $20.
Got a friend with a taste for home décor that’s a bit out of the ordinary? At Crate Expectations – located on a leafy side street off Glenferrie Road – you’re guaranteed to find homewares, furniture, paintings and prints that make a statement. Owner Georgina Bird is very hands-on with selecting pieces by local designers and helping customers find exactly what they’re looking for; whether that’s a handmade pastel pink resin bowl by Mornington Peninsula-based designer Keep Resin, or one-of-a-kind printed cushions by Sydney pencil artist Lisa Lapointe. Price-wise, you could spend under $30, but large one-off paintings could set you back upwards of a grand.
The first thing you’ll notice at Gerwürzhaus is the rich smell of spices and teas, stacked in cute white-labelled jars and piled high in self-serve containers. It’s possible to spend hours in the diminutive Lygon Street shop, opening containers, discovering new varieties of rich-scented spices, and dreaming of the delicious culinary creations that they might enhance. There are, in fact, more than 350 single-origin spices, salts, peppers, teas and herbs from around the world to choose from here; but where this family-owned business really shines is in their small-batch blends that staff mix themselves. The German-style Glühwein Gewürz mix makes it easy to make the perfect batch of mulled wine. You can buy the blends by the jarful or create a hamper of smaller samples.
For the socially conscious friend, look no further for gift ideas than the Oxfam Shop. This not-for-profit organisation opened its first shop back in 1965, with the aim of providing sustainable income for artisans living in developing countries all over the world. The colourful Bourke Street Mall store is a treasure chest of one-off products, including Peruvian alpaca-blend throw blankets, African-print cushion covers and wooden carved chests. For friends who don’t need material possessions weighing them down, take a gander at Oxfam’s range of charity cards, where proceeds go to specific things that communities need, including chickens, goats, seeds and safe refuge for women.
You’re never too old to stop learning. The School of Life – founded in London in 2008 by philosopher Alain de Botton – is all about equipping adults with knowledge and skills to live a more fulfilled life. For the curious friend in your life, why not buy them a ticket to a class on having better conversations, realising your potential or understanding mindfulness? Alternatively, the School of Life also stocks beautiful notebooks, pencils, fiction and nonfiction books and conversation cards so that you can get deep at your next dinner party.
Melbourne’s Chris Crouch has made his mark on the city in more ways than one. He’s the former owner of Fitzroy North’s Tramway Hotel, cult shop Polyester Records and music label Candle Records. These days, he runs Happy Valley Shop: a collection of carefully selected books, vinyl records, art and gifts. You’d be hard-pressed to find some of these products elsewhere, which is always a good thing when it comes to choosing a gift. You can’t go wrong with the addictive Finnish log-tossing game Finska or a waxed perfume candle by New Zealand company Ashley and Co. What’s more, prices are very reasonable; an enamel Bill Murray pin will set you back just $20, while large art prints go for around $100.