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Meatsmith butcher
Photograph: Harvard Wang

Shopper’s guide to Smith Street

This strip of the inner north has seen a lot of change recently – just try to resist getting your wallet out at these food shops and boutiques

Written by
Meg Crawford
,
Delima Shanti
&
Adena Maier
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Earlier this year, Smith Street earned the title of being the coolest street in the world. Whether you agree or think that's a bit of a stretch, there's no denying that Smith Street is a hub of cool independent shops. We've rounded up 11 shops that you should check out on your next visit, including everything from trendy bottle-os and quirky gift shops to some of the best vintage stores on this side of the river. The list starts at the tail end of Smith Street near Fitzroy Gardens and takes you all the way up towards Alexandra Parade to ensure you'll get the most out of your journey down Smith Street. 

For more northside action, check out our shopping guide to Gertrude Street and our Smith Street bar crawl

The best shops on Smith Street

  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
  • Collingwood

The Store of Requirement is a wizarding shop perfect for anyone who still checks their letterbox for their Hogwarts letter (maybe it just got lost?). You'll find everything you need to live your most magical life, including a big selection of official Harry Potter merchandise. The folks here really love the "boy who lived" and take pride in stocking hard-to-get collectibles and memorabilia. 

#93: The Searchers
  • Shopping
  • Fitzroy

This small, unassuming Fitzroy gem opened in 2008 as one of the few second-hand bookstores at the city end of Smith Street. Since then, it’s evolved to include a healthy range of used records. Racks stretch from the door to the rear counter; and are helpfully divided into genres such as punk, soul and disco. Most records are in good nick, and prices are reasonable. Homegrown acts aren’t forgotten, either; a large box marked Australia/New Zealand is full of favourites like Split Enz, Hoodoo Gurus and the obligatory selection of AC/DC records. The store still sells books – music, film and art are well represented – and also offers coffee and small snacks.

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  • Shopping
  • Menswear
  • Collingwood

Melbourne based menswear label Flux has been making denim and tees for Aussie men since its inception in 1999. Its creators met at Melbourne punk gigs in the 80s, and you'll notice that many of the brand's pieces are influenced by the punk movement. Get your hands on locally-made shirts, jackets, pants, shorts and top-notch leather accessories. 

#123: Blackhearts and Sparrows
  • Shopping
  • Bottle shops
  • Fitzroy

This independent bottle shop makes incredible wines, beers and ciders accessible for all, and boasts a fantastic selection of wines. Every variety has been taste-tested by the Blackhearts and Sparrows team, so whether you’re after a nice bottle under $20 or something to celebrate with, the staff will direct you to the perfect bottle for the occasion.

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  • Shopping
  • Delis
  • Fitzroy

Andrew McConnell’s specialty butcher and wine store is a one-stop shop for dinner in a pinch. The meats are sourced from personally selected farms, which are smoked, aged and processed in house. The staff are incredibly well-versed on everything from rare breeds to cuts, and some have even worked at McConnell’s restaurants.

#279: Hinoki Japanese Pantry
  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy

This Japanese supermarket is incredibly well-stocked for its size. You’ll find hard-to-find brands of sake, all sorts of instant ramen, snacks and frozen food. Conveniently, much of the Japanese labels are translated, but ask the helpful staff if you need to know how to use dashi stock in your dinner. They also serve fresh sushi made in-house for lunch.

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#294: Happy Valley
  • Shopping
  • Collingwood

There’s a reason why this design and book store is the go-to gift-buying destination for many northsiders. Happy Valley stocks an ever-changing range of prints, jewellery and homewares by local designers and artists, as well as books curated by owner Chris Crouch.

#305: Smith Street Bazaar
  • Shopping
  • Fitzroy

Bright, colourful and filled with leather armchairs that will make you weep with remorse for the tatty sofa chair you bought from Savers when you were 21, this place is great for spending an afternoon fossicking through an abundance of industrial shelving units, drafting tables and American oak sideboards.

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  • Restaurants
  • Collingwood
  • price 1 of 4

When coming to Friends of the Earth, you’re advised to bring your own bags, Tupperware and jars (although you can use theirs), because in the style of an old-fashioned grocer, you weigh out what you need – whether you want to buy in bulk or just have a dribble of something or other for dinner. You’ll also find a large section of the shop devoted to beauty products: detergents, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, body lotions and more, and a noticeboard advertising rallies and spiritual speed dating. 

 

#318: Vintage Garage
  • Shopping
  • Collingwood

Sometimes, mustering the energy to rummage for gems in an op-shop feels like an impossible task. Not so at the Vintage Garage, where everything from its case of designer shoes (where you can pick up anything from ’50s’s red suede stilettos and Dior strappy sandals, all in mint condition) to the colourful petticoats hanging from the ceiling is a vintage aficionados delight.

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