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A guide to shopping in Newtown

It’s the Inner West’s hub of hip, and despite seeing a few closures in recent days, local, sustainable and superb shopping is still thriving in Newtown

People looking at clothes at SWOP Clothing
Photograph: Daniel Boud
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Every avid bargain hunter will occasionally succumb to a mall shopping trip or an evening lost in the fast fashion halls of Kmart. We feel you. But we also know that Sydney’s best shopping experiences are found on the streets, with locals who are passionate about their craft and wares.  

If your bank card is buzzing inside your wallet, wanting to break free in the Inner West, head to these Newtown shops. While a few beloved local faves have packed up shop or moved in recent years due to mental rental rates and impending developments, there are still many golden oldies going strong and cool new kids on the block. 

We’ve selected top boutiques from across the shopping spectrum. These guys number among some of the best florists in Sydney, the best vintage shops, secondhand stores and bookshops.

RECOMMENDED: Sydney’s best antique stores

The best shops in Newtown

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Person swapping clothes at SWOP Clothing
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Shopping, Op shops

Swop Clothing Exchange

icon-location-pin Newtown

Swop is relatively new on the Inner West’s formidable retail scene, but the funky little store is offering something otherwise lacking among the area’s many vintage and secondhand shops: a community marketplace where clothes are currency. Sydneysiders can bring their unwanted retro, vintage and high quality on-trend clothes in exchange for store credit or cold hard cash. Friday is selling day, and you can cash-in one bag of seasonally appropriate clothes and accessories to fuel your next shopping and swapping spree at the store. 

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Crystals on shelves at the Rock Crystal Shop in Newtown.
Photograph: Olivia Gee
Shopping, Jewellery

The Rock Crystal Shop

icon-location-pin Newtown

This gorgeous gemstone store provides a perfect blend of aura investigation and healing through minerals with a no-bullshit attitude. They don’t pretend to have memorised the meaning of every glistening crystal on the carefully colour coded shelves, but are very capable in guiding you to a gem that will elevate your mood and daily doings. Looking to enhance your endurance, courage and leadership skills? Pluck up a carnelian (red agate) egg with burnt orange and red veins.

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Person standing inside store at Milk + Thistle store
Photograph: Katje Ford
Shopping, Boutiques

Milk & Thistle Boutique

icon-location-pin Erskineville

On the south end of King Street there’s a fashion boutique that has a cult following for its Australian designed and made threads. Milk & Thistle’s pieces are often easy-fit, modern cuts in everyday outfits like linen jumpsuits, tencel slip dresses and cotton knits. Fabrics are natural, the prints are distinctive, and each item is produced in a limited run – meaning you might miss out on that galaxy print T-shirt dress if you choose to wait till your next visit.

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Flowers and vases inside the Flower Room in Newtown.
Photograph: Olivia Gee
Shopping, Florists

The Flower Room

icon-location-pin Newtown

Step inside the high-ceilinged King Street store and you’ll find a tamed selection of neatly categorised flowers. There are paper daisies and native foliage in one corner next to a wall of pastel roses, bulbus chrysanthemums and impressive kale flowers. Across the room you can browse an elegant display of colour coded orchids in front of shelves filled with succulents and bonsai plants. After a bit of a statement posie? There are tightly packed bunches of fiery roses, golden daisies and sculptural budding blooms for $55.

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Colourful racks of clothes at the Red Cross Op Shop in Newtown.
Photograph: Olivia Gee
Shopping, Accessories

Red Cross Op Shop

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Walking into Newtown’s Red Cross Op Shop is more like entering somebody’s lovingly designed living room than a retail venue. Sure, they’ve got a killer, colour coded window display of very chic mannequins and racks of meticulously organised outfits, but everything in between – the cute fake flowers, the nanna’s cabinet display of crockery, the somehow discrete chandeliers and the cosy book corner – really makes you feel at home while you shop for near-new flowy boho pieces and secondhand shoes. 

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Books at Better Read Than Dead
Shopping, Book stores

Better Read Than Dead

icon-location-pin Newtown

This beautifully appointed biblio hub attracts a steady stream of locals from morning till night. The downstairs area houses the latest fiction and has an excellent children's section for mini readers. Head one level up, and you'll come to cookery, gardening and other ephemera, while the third level contains artworks on loan from the Corrigan Collection. Book club meetings are hosted in store monthly. Our top pick is the ‘Bad Women Book Club’, which explores the ‘difficult’ women of literature.

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The Social Outfit
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Shopping, Fashion

The Social Outfit

icon-location-pin Newtown

The Social Outfit provides employment and training in the fashion industry to people from refugee and new migrant communities. They have a clothing and accessories store on King Street, with a sewing and manufacturing workroom upstairs, so you can shop for a new silk T-shirt or linen jumpsuit and know that the person who made it is directly benefiting from your purchase. Find shift tops starting from $199 and dresses for $349. Any income generated from sales goes back into the charity. 

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Repressed Records
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Shopping, Book stores

Repressed Records

icon-location-pin Newtown

Repressed Records has some of the very best vinyl imports and reissues at the lowest prices (almost always under $30). In the new vinyl section, find neatly alphabetised albums from artists like Sharon Van Etten and Hockey Dad. There are banging bargains in the decade-spanning R’n’B and hip hop section – that Salt-n-Pepa vinyl is a must have for $10 – and if you feel like dusting off your discman, you can listen to a Fleetwood Mac CD like it’s 1999 for only $8.

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Clothes on rack inside at Cream on King newtown
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Shopping, Op shops

Cream on King

icon-location-pin Newtown

This Americana vintage clothing store is driving their metaphorical Mustang down two sustainable fashion routes. They offer pre-loved clothes with rockabilly '70s and ’80s style, and also refashion garments into new, hip cuts. Their stock is made up of wild patterns, rolled-up sleeves, plenty of double denim and worn in but not worn out leather boots. It’s not the cheapest retro fashion about, but it’s very accessible for anyone on the lookout for one-off pieces in this new-meets-old style. 

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Shopping

T Totaler

icon-location-pin Newtown

If you're after a little more than your average earl grey, head to T Totaler. Owner Amber Hudson is dedicated to bringing complex tea blends to Sydney, like her unwind blend – Australian-grown lavender, lemongrass, peppermint and lemon myrtle – or the immune boost made with Echinacea, olive leaf, aniseed myrtle and rosehip. The shop offers 30 blends in reusable pharmaceutical glass bottles, and also functions as a café. Remember, this herbal heaven is only open on weekends (their George Street sister store pours cuppas daily).

End your shopping day here

Female bartender at Earl's Juke Joint
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Bars, Craft beer

The best bars in Newtown

From dog-friendly brewery bars to moody cocktail dens, neighbourhood wine bars, indie boltholes and rock-n-roll burger bars, Newtown's got 'em all.

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