NEWTOWN SHOPKEEPERS PHOTOS BY NIC BEZZINA 129
“The most unique item I’ve come across in my trade is a collection of authentic Bollywood outfits from an Indian film.”
grew up in Suva, Fiji. Indian Fashion Shop has been open on King St in Newtown for 30 years now. I have fond memories of visiting markets in India with my family when I was very young. I guess I’ve been interested in Indian fashion since then. I’ve been to India over 30 times. Delhi is my favorite destination because of the many markets. I have agents over there who source and ship me products. The most unique item I’ve come across in my trade is a collection of authentic Bollywood outfits from an Indian film. When I first opened the shop, Newtown was much quieter and had a large Indian population, especially along south King Street. While there is more traffic, shops and people now; there has been a steady decline in sales for me.
Brij Bhushan Lal
BB DESIGNER JEWELLERS “We have worked on pieces of jewellery that are valued at prices similar to that of Sydney City real estate!”
B Designer Jewellers is run by my brother Levon (pictured) and I. We both grew up in Western Sydney and completed our Jewellery Design education at Enmore TAFE and our gemology qualifications at the Gemological Institute of Sydney. Through the loving support of hard-working parents, we were given a great opportunity to succeed. In 1997, at a relatively young age, I, Vartan, the elder brother entered the jewellery industry. The journey of the BB Designer Jewellers brand started in Newtown in 2004. Being a Master Jeweller and Designer myself, and accompanied by my younger brother Levon (specialising in Gem-stone Setting and Jewellery Design), BB Designer Jewellers has grown to what you see today and we now operate from two locations – Newtown and Sydney City. Newtown has been quite a diverse and
changeable scene. Businesses seem to come and go. In the past eight years, Newtown has created opportunities for many unique and exceptional boutique stores. Our store in Newtown has been the area’s first high-end, fine jewellery manufacturing boutique. Newtown will be benefitted to no end if more stable and niche service industries are established. The area could very easily become an iconic outdoor shopping and dining attraction in our city of Sydney. Newtown has always had a streak of Artistic flair, which is encouraged by the School of Performing Arts and the Enmore Design Centre. The lifeblood of this town is the growing and ever-diversifying community of great people. We have worked on pieces of jewellery that are valued at prices similar to that of Sydney City real estate! The most fascinating and self-satisfying
thing for us as brothers is that we have created and incorporated our trademark in all of our designs. Even more rewarding is the fact that our clients are requesting our signature on every piece that we create. Our service and the jewellery we create are just as real and genuine as the people of the community of Newtown. The support we get from our ever-growing clientele is utmost proof of the nature of our products being of “Newtownian” uniqueness and creativity.
GOULD'S BOOK ARCADE
“To have Bob Carr say that Bob Gould was the most well read man that he had known was not only truthful, but also a great compliment.”
ould’s was started by my father Bob Gould. The bookshop was originally established as the Third World Bookshop in Goulburn Street, Sydney, in either 1965 or 1966. It was a kind of collective Bookshop of “Resistance”, which was a Trotskyiest youth group; and the Vietnam Action Campaign. The Vietnam Action Campaign was the group that organised the first moratoriums against the Vietnam War. They were the Militant wing of the anti Vietnam War movement. When the Labourites and the Stalinists were Marching and singing “all we are saying is give peace a chance”; we were marching & shouting “One Side Right, One side Wrong; Victory to the Vietcong”. This was the first slogan I remember. When I was growing up I felt as if I was a part of a family based Trotskyist faction: the family that demonstrates together; stays together. My parents weren’t always good friends but they were always good comrades. Bob worked in a few Bookshops before the Third World Bookshop was established. He was both a bookseller, a Trotskyist and political activist for all of his life. The bookshop was an offshoot of his politics in that, in its hay day, he arranged classic events. The most significant being the debate between Keith Windshuttle and Henry Reynolds and Bob. Hundreds of people came. He was a hoarder and loved books, and could never throw any book out. He was also totally
opposed to censorship, and over the years sold, among others; The Little Red School Book, Portnoy’s Complaint, posters of the Statue of David and Aubrey Beardsley prints - all of which were banned and confiscated by the New South Wales police. Somewhere in their vaults they may still have them, unless they destroyed them. He also sold porn. Bob was a socialist all his life and the most well read person that I have ever met. To have Bob Carr say that Bob Gould was the most well read man that he had known was not only truthful, but also a great compliment. When Gould’s Book Arcade opened in Newtown, Newtown was a different place to what it is now. It was much quieter, with many working class families living here along with many students, and a migrant population - which the Greek Church in King Street and the Turkish Mosque in Charles Street, Erskineville, represent. Rents were cheaper then, and houses much easier to buy. Now there are still many students, but also white collar workers and professional people moving in. It is a very interesting place to work and to live. Partly because of Sydney University; Newtown and the inner West is still where a lot of the left movement live and work. Newtown, like most inner suburbs, will change in the future. The population mix will probably remain the same, and hopefully local residents will become more community minded. People are now thinking more about
important issues like climate change, education, the environment and immigration (especially the horrendous treatment of asylum seekers by both sides of politics), as well as the future. We are still a shop with lots of books and records - on all topics - there is something here for everyone. We now have the children and grandchildren of our first customers coming in. Recently a young woman came into the shop with her small daughter. The mother had “practically lived” in the shop as a young person; she later married and went to live in Newcastle, however, she wanted her daughter to experience the shop, and they now come from Newcastle on a regular basis. To me this bookshop was always, and as long as I am involved, will always be a left wing bookshop where people, especially young people; can rediscover the ideas of Marx, Engels, Trotsky, Lenin, Chomsky, Pilger, Reynolds, Lang, Windschuttle et al. I also hope that we can reestablish it as a place that people can meet and organise as a community. We need a left wing progressive bookshop in these conservative times to help us defend ourselves from the almost inevitable election of Tony Abbott and the renewed Work Choices legislation and further abuse of asylum seekers that he will generate.
REACTOR RUBBERWEAR “The black rubber blow up Michelin Man body suit with a blow up hood and breathing hose was a fascinating piece.”
grew up in Torquay in country Victoria. I’ve always loved dressing up and anything to do with fashion, but I especially like sexy fetishwear and rubber clothing. I worked as front of house salesperson for Reactor Rubberwear for around three years. I was not the owner of Reactor Rubberwear although most people thought otherwise. This was my first experience selling fashion but it seemed so natural for me and I really enjoyed meeting and serving all my unique customers and dressing them up! The black rubber blow up Michelin Man body suit with a blow up hood and breathing hose was a fascinating piece. One customer became infatuated with it, kept coming in to try it on many times and at one point was determined to wear it out of the shop and run down Enmore Road in it! We managed to stop him just in time.
From the nineties I think Newtown went from being a hidden gem in the inner west where a bohemian creative community spirit existed with small unique businesses thriving and adding a sense of alternative freedom to what is now a more commercial, gentrified and polished suburb with rising rents pushing out those long standing small businesses. Reactor Rubberwear was a well-known fetish fashion shop on Enmore Road, which along with Gallery Serpentine, The Wild One and Invisible Light gave so much to the Newtown alternative fashion community. I expect Newtown will be one of Sydney’s most popular suburbs, if not the most popular place to be especially for young fashion conscious people. Be open minded and don’t think rubber is just for sleazy perverts, it’s actually a high end fashion fabric and is the most comfortable of materials
to wear when fitted right and can look absolutely amazing when you get the right outfit on the right body.
POLKA DOT COOKIES
“When I first came to Sydney twenty years ago I walked down King Street and thought it was magic.”
grew up in Melbourne and I fell into cooking after ending up working casual jobs in kitchens. At one stage I was a kitchen hand and helping out in this funny lingerie lunch place (all kitchen staff was fully clothed). A chef came in on contract and he suggested I stop wasting my time washing up and start an apprenticeship. So it was either fate, good fortune or a preference to stop speaking to wait staff in their underwear that led me to it. I started Polka Dot Cookies almost ten years ago and have been on the street for eight years now. When I first came to Sydney twenty years ago I walked down King Street and thought it was magic. When I was thirteen my sister lived in St. Kilda and she played John Kennedy’s ever-cool King Street song, “I know where I come from but I never knew where I belong”. When we leased
the shop I did really say, “I can’t believe I have a shop on King Street, really on King Street, maybe I belong here”. My daughter was born here in Newtown and she came to work with me every day from when she was 2 weeks old. I once had the experience of having a client order cookies as gifts for an event and then sadly their grandmother passed away just the day before the event. They told me they planned to put Nan’s cookie in the coffin with her so she could still have it on the day. I think it was sad and funny and beautifully human altogether. We have baked everything over the years, biscuits, cupcakes, two metre tall wedding cakes and cakes in the shape of crazy things, for corporate launches. We have now simplified things so we can just open up the doors and bake biscuits for people walking up and down King Street.
Businesses come and go, this part of the street has stayed pretty original and comfortably shabby. I think it would be really hard to take away the locals’ love for the street. The street may get spruced up and shops will get renovated. We are trying really hard to finish renovating a new spot closer to Alice Street so we can open as a cookie bar called Cookies+Milk and finally start cooking for locals.
“The evolution of the building over nearly a century has resulted in an architectural fabric that includes elements of Art nouveau, Edwardian, Art Moderne and various Art Deco styles.”
grew up in Enmore and I’ve been involved in the business since 1986. I was brought up around cinemas, theatres, studios and live concerts; so from an early age I had a love and a passion for the entertainment industry. It was the Enmore Theatre itself that made me want to start my business here. The Enmore Theatre plays a distinctive role in the social and cultural life of the city and occupies a unique position in Sydney’s theatrical history. Originally built in 1908 and opened to the public as a photo-play theatre in 1912; the Enmore and the Szarka brothers commenced a succession of sold out performances and remarkable success. The theatre was extensively renovated in 1920 and given a handsome palladium style façade. Hoyts closed The Enmore and began an extensive modernisation of the entire building. The theatre re-emerged as a “large art deco showplace”, with
a newly renovated stage, increased stage flying capacity, new façade, interior and décor. It is the art deco remodelling that appears today. The evolution of the building over nearly a century has resulted in an architectural fabric that includes elements of Art nouveau, Edwardian, Art Moderne and various Art Deco styles. The Eliades family has been at the Enmore Theatre since 1982, and along with Greg Khoury have transformed it into one of the best venues in Australia. The Enmore is the heart of The Sydney Comedy Festival and hosts a variety of children’s entertainment such as The Wiggles, The Fairies and all of Garry Ginivan’s Productions. Some of the worlds largest bands have played at The Enmore Theatre including: The Rolling Stones; Coldplay; Kiss; Oasis; Jeff Buckley; Nick Cave; Faithless and Massive Attack. Without the promoters there is no show.
Without the tour managers the artist would never get here. Without production managers you wouldn’t be able to see and hear a show. Without event coordinators it would never come together. From bookers, box office staff, accountants, technicians, security and front of house staff; it is all a chain of events that makes a show succeed. Newtown has always been cool and I consider it one of the best strips in Sydney by far. The Theatre is the heart of Newtown. Whenever there is a show on; every bar, pub and restaurant is full. That’s great for the area’s economy and culture. It can only get bigger and better. Anything and everything is accepted in Newtown and this is why the place is so unique. It is one of the must see places whilst in Sydney.
“Over the last 10 years The Vanguard has established itself to become one of Newtown most iconic venues.”
grew up on the Central Coast, two hours north of Sydney. I have been working in entertainment on some level since I was sixteen, but I have owned The Vanguard coming up to three years. I have been interested in my profession for as long as I can remember, first as a consumer, then as a creator. I love the energy Newtown has, throughout the day and into the night. There has always been entertainment in Newtown. I think over the last 10 years The Vanguard has established itself to become one of Newtown most iconic venues. I don’t know what the future will bring for Newtown, every time I think I know where it’s heading it throws me a curve ball. A rare item I have come across in relation to my business is profit! Make sure you do something that you love. Not like, not interested in…LOVE!
“I came from a family of tailors and fashion designers; learning to sew on an industrial Singer sewing machine before I could write.”
’m an ex-Architecture student and taxi-driver, who grew up in a manufacturing factory on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst; called Dreamline Fashions. I came from a family of tailors and fashion designers; learning to sew on an industrial Singer sewing machine before I could write. Retro a Go Go has been evolving for over 20 years, and in this time has collected the most amazing, crazy 60’s, 70’s and 80’s clothes. ‘Retro a Go Go’ began at a small market stall in Burland Hall; which was attached to the Newtown Library in the center of King Street. Catering to the Newtown community of the early 90’s, it was held from Thursday night to Saturday and was like a 3-day festival in mainstream Newtown every week. Burland Hall was a fantastic market; like a fete occupying an old-fashioned school hall. The eccentric stallholders sold collectables and curios before anyone really collected anything, or anybody was very curious. The small stall became a large stall, and expanded to other market stalls at Glebe, Rozelle, Bondi and whatever market would accept the crazy stuff we had on sale. The first shop was established on Bondi Road,
which was arguably the first retro-vintage shop in Bondi. This area was not quite the hipster place it is now, and it probably paved the path for the hipsters to move in. Over the years, moving from Bondi to Newtown to Marrickville to Alexandria, Retro a Go Go has developed under many different names. It originated as Mixxim and evolved as Channel X, Bubble Juice, Good-Stuff, and Red Carpet. However, amidst this movement from the Eastern Suburbs to the Inner-West it has remained fundamentally the same. It has now found its rightful place on Enmore Road and it feels like it has always been there. Over time the ‘retro-vintage’ collection expanded. Many of the pieces were just too special and needed to be admired, shared and appreciated by other people. At about this time, ‘Retro’ had become a statement, and was becoming more desirable, and a retro costume hire service began. One of the most satisfying things is when customers attending a fancy dress party or costumed event come back to us with first prize for best dressed. It is especially pleasing when we dress the groom and best man at a
wedding and they return to show their gratitude and share some stories and photos of their special day. The shop has an extensive wardrobe library, so the best garments are reserved for hiring by industry professionals involved in movies, television, photo shoots and plays (some of our clients have been quite successful). From the opening, Retro a go go’s hard working mannequins stood silent in their daily fashion parade outside the shop. Receiving both the ‘ire’ of many a council ranger and the love and admiration of the customers and community, they have garnered praise and infamy. Even now people come in to Enmore Road and ask “did you have that shop in Bondi...Newtown...Marrickville”; all from the recognition of our silent supermodels. In the end it’s not about the fabric or the fashion, it’s not even about the people, but the most special and interesting thing that the shop possesses are the stories told by the people brought about by the nostalgia evoked amongst the visions of yesteryear.
HAWLEYWOOD BARBER “We’re a gentleman’s only barber shop. We cater to men’s grooming, you know; everything from haircuts, beard trimming and nasal trimming to cut-throat razor shaves.”
grew up in Bankstown in Sydney. I opened Hawleywood’s 3 years ago and have been a barber for 15 years. I’ve always loved being in barbershops; it’s pretty much just hanging out with your buddies all day. We’re a gentleman’s only barber shop. We cater to men’s grooming, you know; everything from haircuts, beard trimming and nasal trimming to cut-throat razor shaves. We have a water buffalo skull from Vietnam that has a dragon design carved into it: we bought it across the road at Little Bazaar. We also have an old barber’s chair that I bought from a mattress shop in Bankstown. People need to trust their barber and not try to turn around to look in the mirror all the time. At a barber you face away from the mirror, which is traditionally what barbers did because when we’re working on a fade or a taper we’re using the
mirror to give a different perspective of the haircut so we can see how it’s going. It’s also a practicality because with a barber’s chair the clipper cords don’t reach far enough to get right around to the back. There’s a social benefit though because this way the barber and the patron in the chair can have a conversation with the people waiting on the bench. I started in Newtown because I think the people here suited our business; that alternative vibe. The clientele are good here. People are pretty chilled out and open to new things. We offer a place this is quite unique/niche. We draw people who are interested in 1930’s fashion through to the 50’s rockabilly. These scenes are really big right now. It’s a place to hang out for guys. There’s probably no real place for guys to hang out and have their own space in Newtown. That’s why we fit in here.
Newtown’s becoming a bar and small restaurant hub. I think this part of Newtown will become a lot busier. With the Newtown Social club opening soon and more small bars opening up; Newtown is becoming more and more of an entertainment destination for Sydney. The area is always changing with shops coming and going. It started to die off a bit as far as the alternative scene goes; but I think it’s making a come back at the moment. I think people were a little worried it was becoming too gentrified. Your starting to see the old Newtown come back.
Daniel James Lloyd
“My background is in entertainment. It’s bohemian and vibrant.”
grew up in Quito, Ecuador. Ever since I was a young boy I have been interested in art, and also in the Panama hat. I recall visiting Homero Ortega’s workshop when I was young and he said to me “you will sell hats one day”. My background is in entertainment. It’s bohemian and vibrant. I’m a musician, playing guitar and flute; and I played Latin American music all over the world for many years. And that is Caramba you know. It’s from all around the world, but I wanted time to just slow down, so I settled here and opened the store. I have been interested in Panama hats since first seeing the weaving and creation of them. To be an authentic Panama hat it has to come from Ecuador. At the time of opening the Panama Canal, President Roosevelt was wearing a Panama hat in the press photos, and the Italians saw these and popularized the hat all over the
world. Last year the Panama hat was declared an intangible treasure of humanity. It takes 15 days to a month to make one of these hats, and even longer depending on the detail. There’s a process involved. It’s passion. It’s art. I work with a number of the best producers in Ecuador to import the hats. It took me a while to convince them to bring these to Australia and to earn their trust. After many years working with hats, I can tell you exactly the size of your head just by looking. Everything here people find rare or unique. I have a collection of rings made in Brazil from the hardest wood in the world. It comes from the Tagua Palm. They call it vegetarian ivory and it looks just like ivory. My advice for anyone starting a business is to be passionate and knowledgeable about your trade. Caramba has been around for 16 years. I was
drawn to this area in the beginning because it was quite bohemian and had a vibrant arts and entertainment culture. Newtown was a very different place back then. It was a bit rough and intimidating for a foreigner like myself, but you get to know that punks are actually really good people. And I knew Newtown had that fate, that it would just work. The future holds a lot of promise for the area. Just recently I walked through Newtown and was surprised at how many new stores have opened. More, more, more shops!!! Everything is constantly changing, being improved and reinvented. But its good that this particular part of King Street from the train station down to St Peters has kept its authenticity and peculiarity; its ethnicity.
“We come across new variations of produce all the time. After 23 years doing this you would think you’ve seen it all.”
’ve lived in Stanmore since moving to Australia in 1990. I grew up in Jieh, Lebanon. My family and I fell in love with the area and wanted to stay local. I’ve been with Azzi fruit market for 23 years. I joined my brother in the business. I always wanted to work in a family business and I’ve always been interested in fresh produce and the markets. We are the only dedicated fruit and veg shop on Enmore Road. Every morning around 5am we visit the markets to source the freshest produce for the shop. At times we even visit farms directly. Over the years we have developed professional relationships with importers and farmers. These relationships are integral to the success of our business. We come across new variations of produce all the time. After 23 years doing this you would think you’ve seen it all. Just this week we started selling
a new berry imported from New Zealand called Kiwiberry. It grows widely in China, Korea and Japan. We come across new varieties all the time. The area is getting a lot busier and I’ve noticed an increase in bars and restaurants on this street. Enmore Road is becoming an extension of the King Street entertainment strip. Because we sell the freshest produce at low prices we still attract a variety of customers, however, it is getting harder and harder every day.
THE FLOWER ROOM
“We have many pieces of vine, branches and plants which we source from suppliers who discover these in the bush. Many of these are one off pieces that we will never be able to find again.”
was born in Taipei, Taiwan. I grew up out west in Regents Park and went to Homebush Boys High School. I have a background in IT; studying computers whilst in high school, TAFE and then at university. I have been at The Flower Room Newtown for over 3 years now. I worked in my brother’s florist in Surry Hills; Buds & Bowers, for about 2 years before that. You could say I have only had 5 years of direct experience in floristry, but my family has always been involved with flowers as my mum is a florist and has been in floristry most of her life. She has had her florist for over 13 years now. My brother and I pretty much grew up in a florist, helping with answering phones, deliveries, cleaning and of course Valentine’s day!!! To be an excellent florist, you need to work with great people. These people will inspire you so you can reach the next level. We have many pieces of vine, branches and plants which we source from
suppliers who discover these in the bush. Many of these are one off pieces that we will never be able to find again. They make great furniture/art pieces for homes and we often sell these to people who love nature. We fit perfectly in Newtown as our floral displays are quite unique and different to everyone else, just like every single person in this area. Newtown is such a great area; it is so diverse in culture and art and it was also the right opportunity. That’s why the business is here. I have been in Newtown for only 3 years but in that time I’ve seen the Dendy cinema upgrade and so many stores have changed. There is now 3 frozen yoghurt stores on King street! I think the variety of people have changed over the years and we are getting more of a younger crowd. In the future I think this area will become even more trendy and funky!