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Shop Handmade: the end of an era

Amanda Whitley

It’s the end of an era for hyperlocal Canberra store Shop Handmade, with doors set to close next month.

It started in 2008 as a quarterly ‘Handmade Market’, selling handmade creations from designers both local and further afar, and it became a destination for artisanal goods from nearly 600 designers. It’s grown to generate $5 million in sales for small business, and $6 million in tourist revenue, every year; and in 2013, Shop handmade’s role in championing Canberra’s creative and entrepreneurial sector were recognised, when it took out the Telstra Business Australian Capital Territory Start-Up Award.

Launched by Julie Nichols and Rachel Evangelou in 2010, Shop handmade has long been THE place to go for everything from Canberra-loving tea towels to lollies proudly proclaiming, ‘Canberra doesn’t suck’. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. On 31 May — six years, one month and one day after it first opened its doors — Shop Handmade will close permanently.

Julie and Rachel say they’re “Sad, excited, scared!”

“The closing of Shop handmade came from plans to regenerate our CBD to include shopping, eating and accommodation precincts that will allow Canberra to compete with Sydney and Melbourne in attracting visitors to the city and the region,” says Julie.

As part of this regeneration, the building that Shop Handmade occupies is going to be demolished.

“At first we were a bit shocked — we had known for a while that the building was coming down sometime, but the owners had been talking about it for years. When it finally happened we were a bit stunned,” says Rachel.

“Faced with the ‘what to do next?’ question, it didn’t take us long to realise it’s time to work on an idea we had been dreaming about for years.”

The details of this idea remain under wraps, but Julie and Rachel say, “it will still be Local, Lovely and will include wine, food and the best of everything Canberra has to offer.”

If you’re a fan of the Handmade Markets, don’t freak out! The markets will continue like they always have, four times a year at EPIC.

“The Handmade Markets will continue to be a great collective of great Australian design and food showcasing new designers at each event,” says Julie.

“We have had a focus on our new food and homewares hall for a year now and this will tie in seamlessly with our new venture.”

The business partners say that, for them, it’s all about community and “keeping it local.”

“We want to be one of Canberra’s leading advocates for all that is great about our region. By providing a beautiful and central location to showcase and sell local and regional produce we seek to establish the most creative and innovative experience in Canberra.”

Keep an eye on the Handmade Canberra Facebook page to be the first to discover Julie and Rachel’s next adventures…

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

  • Irene Hazilias

    This makes it sound like they’ve gone bust or something bad has happened. The quarterly markets are still going strong and the shopfront concept is a sound / profitable one… it just happens that the building they are located in is getting demolished. The girls and their “hyperlocal”??? aka local retail presence will be back in some form or another I’m confident. No need to panic! These girls have it all sorted!

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