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The Golden Age Of Suburban Shopping: Ainslie Shops

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Canberra’s planners had strong ideas about the importance of small suburban shops anchoring each suburb and providing a community hub as well as a place to purchase essentials.

Over the decades the fortunes of these commercial strips have often waxed and waned.

But these days, Canberra has a strong contingent of suburban shops—not only servicing their own streets, but attracting crowds from all over the city for their quirky mix of convenience stores, eateries and odd shops. We bring you five of the finest. First up—Ainslie.

Ainslie Shops

Much of the Ainslie shops’ success lies in the ambition of one Manuel Xyrakis. His parents purchased the supermarket and milk bar in 1963 and Manuel has dedicated his life to continuing the family legacy.

The supermarket is famous across the city for its prodigious cheese aisle to its range of fresh daily designer bread and the latest in vegan, biodynamic, organic, locally-produced and niche products.

But there’s more to Ainslie than just the IGA. After you’ve stocked up, it’s time to meander on down to Edgar’s Inn for a refreshing pint, or round the corner and grab a Mama Dough pizza fresh from the oven.

If your desire is more European, there’s Breizh—a Brittanic crêperie and pâtisserie which offers a mix of sweet and savoury creations.

Or if a fine-dining mood strikes, try the hatted Pilot. Even Theo’s Takeaway has a bit of a cult following.

Just recently, the shops welcomed a bespoke independent bakery, The Bakehouse—which is doing a roaring trade—and if you’re in the mood to shop, Shop Girl Flower Girl has flowers (fresh and dried), homewares, beauty and apparel.

And there will be more to love when the shops become home to a new drinking and dining experience and function space—The Inn—courtesy of one of the city’s hospitality gurus, Frank Condi. Read more here.


This article originally appeared in Magazine: Time (AW2020), available to read free online.

Read it here.

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