She has great style and provided a savvy tour of what downtown Melbourne had to offer. We started with great coffee from Journal before ducking down several lane-ways that offered a snap shot of "bespoke"culture in the downtown.
Some insight as to why the lane-ways are thriving: rents are REALLY high in Melbourne, higher than SF and in some cases, NY. It has a robust economy, one that gains its wealth predominately from mining. Melbourne's population is about 4million which provides a consumer base to support unique enterprises. For comparison, Oakland's population is about 4000,000. Vacancies in Melbourne are rare, even with the high rents. So one workaround for new businesses is a second floor or basement location. Emerging designers, and chefs have embraced this option, filling lane-ways with a collaborative mix of gourmet food, design, micro-manufacturing, and a range of bespoke (custom) goods.
Melbourne's shoppers have embraced this wholeheartedly: big-box retail is down 40% while these smaller, out of the way shops are doing quite well. This amazing number could be the canary in the coal mine for American retailers who are pointing at the economy for poor sales; in a robust economy like Melbourne the tide has turned toward local, artisan and hand made, and custom. We will be featuring Melbourne's popup's next, stay tuned.