The best shops in 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).