There's more to Manly than the beach and the bars (although both of those things come highly recommended). When you wander off the Northern Beaches' suburbs well-trod mainstreet, you'll find a growing number of independent boutiques, antique stores and other knick knack sellers, as well as killer spots to pick out a sun hat or cossi to wear back out onto the Corso.
We didn’t anticipate finding a collection of baby gasmasks so appealing – nor, for that matter, a pair of polio prosthetics – but, as we found ourselves inside the new warehouse from vintage and antiques collectors Apostlebird there was a strong sense of fascination with the metal juvenile legs dangling from the beams. The new store, sitting inside a former section of the motor garage off Lakeside Crescent in North Manly, is not like other Sydney antique store. Unlike the provincial French furniture dealers and the Rockabilly outfitters of the Inner West, this store has an air of something far more macabre.
Containing a curated collection of fashionable pieces, Bow & Arrow is the baby of Natasha ‘Tash’ Ianni – a woman who knows how to style both herself and her laneway store. Scarves by artist Natalie Martin are displayed on the walls like masterpieces, and summer dresses from Romance Was Born are hanging from the racks with all the majesty of a red carpet dressing-room. There are lip paints from brand Fat and the Moon and leather wallets from Spanish label Steve Mono, plus we’re pretty sure this is the only beachside shop where you can pick up Valiance jewellery, Chronicles of Never footwear and Rachel Comey slacks – all in the same room. Not to mention the homewares from In Bed and Le Feu De L’Eau.
Crinkled covers of classic books couldn’t find better bedfellows than retro vinyl and a glass of Merlot. Thankfully, the Whistler Street bookshop Desire Books and Records know that good things come in threes, which is why they’ve expanded their reach beyond literary fiction to monthly music and poetry events (wine included) and a partnership with former Camperdown store Pigeon Ground. Since closing the Camperdown nest, the Pigeon Ground crew had been on the hunt for their next location for months before collaboration with Manly’s revered bookstore was on the cards. It was the perfect fit. Since September 2015, shoppers are now greeted with boxes of black gold from the Beatles’ Help! to the Supremes’ A’ Go-Go, with records selling from $20-$50.
Named for the owner’s two sons, Sammy & Sid is a second-hand boutique made from a lot of love. Owner Doriana likes to know as much as possible about her shoppers to guide them through what she has in stock. From the $10-and-up suitcase near the till to the embellished dresses and genuine vintage threads out back, Doriana knows what’s going to fit and she’ll pick out items to add to your changing room pile. The store stocks second-hand fashion, so there’s lots to tempt thrift-shoppers looking to bag a bargain. We find a near-new electric blue jumpsuit from Zara for under $200 and a ’90s romper for under $100. Doriana’s top tip is to follow her pages on social media as she’ll post the latest boho dresses or Prada handbag so regulars know when to drop in. If Australian designers are what you’re looking for, you’re in luck. Sammy & Sid gets frequent drops of Alex Perry, Lisa Ho, Camilla, Sass & Bide, Camilla & Marc and Simona – an iconic label of days gone by.
Outside you’ll see potted succulents in concrete planters and a cluster of beachside plants that look like they could weather an ocean storm. Friendly-faced Kye Carqueville, creative director at White House Flowers, welcomes browsers through the doors and is on-hand to help the indecisive with their choice of floral bouquet. On our visit, there are lilies and blush-pink roses, orange tulips and proud cerise orchids. In addition to the fresh blooms, you’ll find shelves of copper pots and treats from Winnow Chocolates, as well as pastel planters and macramé hanging gardens. Perfect if you’re looking to add something extra to that gift or home purchase.