Where to Shop like a Local In and Around Sydney CBD for 2024

You'll find heaps of beloved small businesses in the Strand Arcade, Barangaroo and The Rocks.
Lucinda Starr
Published on April 01, 2023

Where to Shop like a Local In and Around Sydney CBD for 2024

You'll find heaps of beloved small businesses in the Strand Arcade, Barangaroo and The Rocks.

There are plenty of reasons to explore Sydney's CBD. From the cobbled laneways of The Rocks to the swish foreshore playground that is Barangaroo, our city streets are recognisable to — and frequented by — tourists and locals alike. And when it comes to shopping, the CBD delivers something for everyone (and every budget).

But navigating past the hotspots to undercover the hidden gems isn't as easy as it might seem. Alongside the city's sparkling facade is a thriving community of independent makers, creators and providers championing offbeat designs and small-scale goods.

To help you venture off the beaten track, we've curated your go-to guide for the best stores to shop small in the CBD and surrounds. Find the perfect memorable gift, nab a great bottle of vino and sharpen your look at these ten must-see Sydney shops.

  • 10
    Sorry Thanks I Love You

    Tucked away in the heart of Sydney’s financial district, Sorry Thanks I Love You elevates gift giving to a whole new level. Forget scented candles, stubbie holders and soap sets. These guys source unexpected products from ‘Tokyo to Tasmania’ that are curated and hand-crafted for shoppers and their gift recipients. Step inside the sandstone facade of No. 1 Martin Place and discover daring apparel, accessories, homewares and gifts from the likes of Pleats Please, Veja and Rains, plus natural wine packs from Drnks. A word of warning, though: the store’s fresh flowers, gourmet snacks and design pieces are so good, you’ll want to keep them for yourself.

    Image: Joey Clark.

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  • 9

    Booking in for a fresh cut is usually a practical decision. Things are looking a bit shaggy and you can’t remember the last time your mop was treated to a good rinse. But one look at the Strand Arcade’s Men’s Biz will change all that. The two spaces (a barbershop on level two and a retail store on the ground floor) are kitted out with retro chairs, nostalgic bottles and waxes galore, blending modern trends with old-fashioned charm. Stop by for a hot towel shave, beard trim or go all out with The Full Service experience. Once you’ve sharpened your look, peruse the shelves of gels, fragrances and tonics — a selection from around the world with quality, minimalism and sustainability the focus — to walk away with a swag of goodies to keep your cut looking its best.

    Image: Rodrigo Vargas.

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  • 8
    Courtesy of the Artist

    Looking for something to dazzle? Head to Courtesy of the Artist in the Strand Arcade, where you will find an expansive collection of contemporary jewellery and objects. Split across three galleries, the store’s modern and ever-evolving offering is designed to command attention and combat mass production. Since launching in 2005, Courtesy of the Artist has grown to represent 80 artists who champion unexpected creations. Celebrating a big anniversary or birthday? Browse the array of ready-to-wear pieces or speak with one of six handpicked fine jewellers to create your own custom design. More of an artist collective than a simple shop, Courtesy of the Artist holds community workshop events in its airy upstairs space, The Loft, so local jewellers and artists can come and learn new skills.

    Image: Kimberley Low.

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  • 7

    This menswear shop is all about bespoke tailoring and accessories that will elevate your nine-to-five wardrobe. Belance offers carefully crafted suiting known for achieving a hybrid of traditional and contemporary style. Take advantage of its made-to-measure tailoring service for quality suits, jackets and more casual t-shirt range. You’ll also find carefully curated accessories, from fresh white kicks to leather work and travel bags and a range of high-end watches to enhance your personal style. Don’t wait till wedding season to get yourself chalked up for a new suit — this is where you’ll come for lifelong clothing made with skill and dedication.

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  • 6

    The second outpost of Surry Hills’ beloved record and book shop is a welcome addition to the streets of Barangaroo. Especially for record lovers that work long hours in the city. Stocking an impressive selection of new vinyl, novels and arthouse flicks, this spot is a goldmine for those looking for a thoughtful last-minute gift. As the store is one of Australia’s largest independent retailers of music, books and film, you can expect to snag a gem or two from the stacks of curated goods. Pick up a great read for yourself and nab your mate a record they’ll love all under one roof.

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  • 5
    Kings Comics

    Want to relive the glory days of the Marvel franchise? Or perhaps you’ve got a mate with an affinity for DC Comics? Let your inner comic nerd loose at Kings Comics, a hub for books, collectibles and all things pop culture. Since opening its doors in 1986, the store has been renowned for its offering of books, graphic novels, comics, action figurines and merch. Its shelves are donned with all your favourite characters, from the Hulk to Batman and everything in between. Our tip? Be prepared for a trip down nostalgia lane and come with plenty of time to spare.

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  • 4
    Strand Hatters

    If your experience with hats goes about as far as throwing on a beanie or cap, Strand Hatters will change all that. The unassuming hat shop located inside the CBD’s historic Strand Arcade feels as though it’s from another time. The dark oak and brass finishes is peak old-world charm, while the shelves are stacked with a specialised offering of Kangol, Akubra, and Brixton designs. Aside from hats, you’ll find a small selection of other accessories to accompany your new look, including fancy picnic blankets, scarves, canes and umbrellas. Don’t know where to start? Let the store’s experienced hat aficionados work their magic to help you find your perfect fit.

    Image: Destination NSW.

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  • 3
    The Fine Food Store

    Situated in the oldest laneway in The Rocks, The Fine Food Store is one to go searching for. Take a quick stroll down Kendall Lane, and you’ll be greeted by a bustling Brooklyn-inspired eatery. Inside, an industrial fit-out and spacious interiors prove the perfect setting for a leisurely lunch. And, luckily, the team here takes food and coffee very seriously. Expect wholesome eats including Riverina farmland poached eggs with your choice of sides, and decadent Belgian waffles with caramelised banana, macadamia and gelato. Order a house-roasted batch brew or single origin coffee, or a glass of Sigurd chenin blanc if you’re feeling a little bit fancy.

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  • 2
    Fix Wine Bar + Restaurant

    Been a long week at the office? Before you escape the city, swing by Elizabeth Street’s Fix Wine Bar. The venue is part-wine bar, part-restaurant with a boutique wine store thrown in for good measure. On the shelves, you’ll find a blend of eclectic and classic varietals from small wineries produced locally and abroad. There are curated wine packs created by owner and head sommelier Stuart Knox alongside all the usual suspects by the bottle. Sign up to the exclusive wine club and let Stuart do the hard work for you, with a bespoke six pack delivered to you each quarter.

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  • 1
    Aslan Coffee Roasters The Rocks

    Nestled in one of Sydney’s most historic spots is the latest venture by St Peters’ Aslan Coffee Roasters. Bringing a slice of the inner west to the CBD, this cafe provides The Rocks with its best coffee — and we’re mighty glad to see good brews finally make their way to this part of the city. On the bar, you’ll find everything from a house blend to on-tap nitro coffee and single origin drops, all sourced from Indonesia. Once you’ve hit your caffeine quota, grab a bite to eat from the Indonesian-inspired menu. Try the pork satay grilled over charcoal with roti paratha, slaw, spiced gherkin and sriracha mayo.

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Top image: Strand Arcade/Destination NSW. 

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