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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Where to Shop Like a Local In and Around Newtown

King Street is known for its vintage shops and record stores — but its retail offering all covers books, health foods and natural wine.
By Caitlin Morahan
March 05, 2020
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Where to Shop Like a Local In and Around Newtown

King Street is known for its vintage shops and record stores — but its retail offering all covers books, health foods and natural wine.
By Caitlin Morahan
March 05, 2020
  shares

WHERE TO SHOP LIKE A LOCAL IN AND AROUND NEWTOWN

in partnership with

King Street is known for its vintage shops and record stores — but its retail offering all covers books, health foods and natural wine.

Although it sits outside the CBD, Newtown has everything you could want from a city centre. The inner west suburb — and its bustling bloodline, King Street — is packed with thrift shops, live music venues, pubs, vegan spots, nurseries, rooftop bars and even a cinema. No matter what you enjoy doing in your spare time, Newtown can deliver it — wander through one of the many vintage clothing stores and catch a limited release film at the Dendy, then, when night falls, grab a bottle of pét-nat to take home or join locals and uni students at the pub for a happy hour pint.

If there's one thing Newtown has too much of, it's choice. So we've joined forces with American Express to create a guide to the must-visits — the stores that locals love to shop small at. These ten shops sell everything from vintage Levis to indoor plants to breakfast ramen and, handily, all will accept American Express Card.

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    Newtown’s P&V sells small-batch beverages including organic wines, local beer and bespoke spirits — the kind of drinks you swoon over at a bar but can never find at your local bottle-o. It’s helmed by a group of Sydney’s foremost beverage connoisseurs: Lou Dowling of Mary’s, wine expert and journalist Mike Bennie and Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham (both of Mary’s, The Lansdowne and The Unicorn). Try a bottle of the team’s own Blind Unicorn pét-nat or refill your own bottle with one of the house wines on tap.

    Image: Trent van der Jagt. 

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    This small nursery is absolute magic. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm — and a finely curated selection of plants, which includes everything from orchids to cacti. The staff are great and always ready to help when you can’t figure out what you’ve done to make your indoor rubber tree look so sad. They understand that shoppers come from all levels of green experience, offering hard-to-kill Zanzibar Gems (the magic plant that thrives on neglect and only needs watering once every three months) to those with black thumbs, as well as being able to talk through the intricacies of garden layouts with the pros. Possibly the most welcoming feature, the Newtown Garden Market also has great standing deals meaning you can build your own flower bed or herb garden in one cheap trip.

    Image: Trent van der Jagt. 

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  • 7

    When we say this store is a one-stop shop for gifts, we really mean it. It has an eclectic mix of books, artisan homewares, jewellery, luxe stationery, art and candles to choose from. Select a card and some artisan wrapping paper, and shopping for gifts has never been easier. Pentimento is for the carefully selected and beautifully displayed, making a shopping experience here unique and uniformly successful (whether you actually planned to buy yourself another journal or ceramic bowl, or not). In its 15 years in Newtown, it’s become a King Street institution — a favourite of stationery nerds, last-minute gift givers, and browsers inclined to dedicate the necessary 20 minutes to thoroughly enjoy the greeting card selection.

    Images: Trent van der Jagt. 

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    SWOP Clothing Exchange

    If the old wardrobe needs a bit of a pick me up, get yourself over to SWOP quick fast. This delightful second-hand clothing store in Newtown is all about unique, beautiful and sustainable fashion. Inspired by the culture of vintage exchange in the United States, SWOP promotes anti-waste, affordability and sustainability — so it’s the perfect place to go for conscious fashion. With both contemporary and vintage threads hanging in colour-coded order, this store is a goldmine for finding that one-off piece your wardrobe needs.

    Image: Trent van der Jagt.

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  • 5

    This is the only place in Sydney where you can tinker on your motorbike and slurp your way through bowls of ramen on the same premises. On one hand, it provides its motor-revving members with a communal space for repairing and polishing up their bikes. On the other, it’s a café, serving coffee, cookies and seriously killer ramen. You can get nosh at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you’ll find some Southern influences mixing with Japanese tradition. One of the new star dishes is a Japanese-style breakfast, served on a tray. It’s worth getting up early for.

    Image: Destination NSW. 

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    If you’re looking for vegan cheeses, bulk gluten-free grains or natural cleaning products — or anything in between — Dr Earth’s huge King Street grocer is where you need to head. As well as selling a wide range of health foods and household items, the store has a well-stocked vitamins and supplements headed up by helpful staff who are all well-trained in nutrition and naturopathy. The store also has a mini cafe up front where you can get coffees, juices, turmeric shots, toast and vegan cakes to-go.

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    Floor-to-ceiling book shelves line this mezzanine bookshop, and a skylight makes it an airy retreat from the bustling street below. The building itself is a literary landmark, and houses everything from new releases to first-edition classics. The staff pride themselves on their wealth of literary knowledge, and are always up for a good old book chat. They often have community events and author readings, so check out their website and see what’s coming up.

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    When Repressed Records moved from Penrith to Newtown 16 years ago, the team know it was setting up shop in the right scene. Famous for its vast vinyl collection, the store specialises in independent Australian music and always has an interesting range of music from around the world you won’t find in your run-of-the-mill music store. Biggest sellers include names like Royal Headache, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Bed Wettin’ and Total Control. Never heard of any of these bands? That’s fine — the team behind Repressed are always happy to make recommendations to ease you into one of the most underrated music genres of all time. The store also stocks knick knacks like carry bags and books from local artists — and other niche things.

    Image: Destination NSW.

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    If your walls are looking particularly blank and boring, a visit to Blue Dog is in order. Anything you’ve ever dreamed of having life-sized on your wall is sold (or can be made) here — including old movie posters, maps of the ancient world, famous movie scene grabs, classic album covers (think Abbey Road), and basically any superhero you can think of. It’s definitely worth checking out — even if you’re just up for a browse. If you find something you really love, it can be laminated, framed or mounted however you like.

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Love where you live and shop small to support the local stores that make Sydney so great. To learn about American Express and the Shop Small initiative, visit here. Then, head this way to find more must-visit spots around the inner west.

Top image: Trent van der Jagt. 

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