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Street libraries, coffee and chat, and their own shop—the Belconnen suburb of Scullin is changing faster than you can say “no ugg boots in our supermarket”.
Residents in the Belconnen suburb of Scullin talk about ugg boots more than most Canberrans.
No, they aren’t especially fond of the cosy but sartorially-questionable footwear, rather, it’s a reference to the former state of their local shops.
While the Scullin shops hummed in the 1970s and 1980s, the last decade has seen it slide into a far quieter state.
A number of small businesses do good trade (people travel across Canberra to see Claire from Bold Hair, there’s a bulk billing GP—rare across our city—and Another Chance op shop is one of Canberra’s hidden secrets for bargain hunters).
But the problems likely began with those ugg boots. When the former supermarket became better known for filling their store with more ugg boots and baby formula (exported to China) than shelves of milk and bread for residents, so began the decline of the shops.
At least, until a year ago. Residents of Scullin (joined by some friendly neighbours from other Belconnen suburbs) got together and decided that people power would change their local shops.
Their vision was big, but so were their actions.
Here are just five ways people power has changed this suburb’s shops for the better.
Coffee, glorious coffee
Scullin residents knew that to revive their shops they needed to start with the most important ingredient: coffee.
Within days, the courtyard came alive again. Locals, cyclists, dog walkers are all regulars, and Canberra’s firefighters and police officers have been known to drop in for Bolivars’ beans.
No doubt while they sip they are admiring the Dan Byrd rainforest mural and the wooden raised garden beds the Scullin Community Group has added to the courtyard.
7.45 am to 1 pm daily | Scullin Shops courtyard
The Scullin Traders
In April, when the Scullin Community Group heard the wholesale baker in the shopping strip wanted to sublet half of his space, they jumped.
Community members stepped up to scrub, paint and work day and night for a month to turn the formerly boarded-up space into a community hub. Six months later, the Scullin Traders has turned over more than $50,000 for small Canberra businesses.
With a beautiful layout, gorgeous gifts from numerous Canberra creatives like Frith St, fresh flowers from Kettle n’ Petal, produce by farmers’ outlet Choku Bai Jo, Long Paddock Eggs, Origin sourdough and Pialligo bacon the shop has been a success.
Did we mention it’s all run by volunteers? On that note, if you have three hours a week to give, why not volunteer?
More people power is always needed to fill the schedule.
Monday, Thursday, Friday from 9 am–6 pm, Saturday 8.30 am–4 pm, Sunday 9 am–3 pm, closed Tuesday/Wednesday
Yoga, not ugg boots
It’s true that next winter will likely see a few ugg-booted visitors to the Scullin shops, but this time when they enter the former supermarket their owners will likely be there for yoga or Pilates rather than the chance to restock their wardrobe.
Change Yoga and Wellness, which already has a popular studio at Forde in Gungahlin, has just opened its doors and they’ve already transformed the space.
People are noticing: wooden floorboards, gentle music and mix of classes from Powerflow to Yin are attracting residents from across Belconnen.
Classes daily, free parking | Book online or via the MINDBODY app.
Coffee and conversation
Loneliness is a real problem in Australian cities, and for many Canberra is no different.
Everyone is welcome to join Friday’s coffee and chat sessions, where conversations between coffee drinkers of all ages cover everything from TV shows of the 80s to life, the universe and anything in between.
Friday 10–11 am | Scullin shops courtyard | All are welcome.
The Scullin Twilight Celebration
It’s daylight savings so Scullin is celebrating. On Saturday 23 November from 4–8.30 pm the shops will rock like they did in the 80s with the Scullin Twilight Celebration—an event run by the hugely active Scullin Community Group.
Expect live music from 80s cover band Flux Capacitor and a guest visit from Canberra’s own Delorean car (a great selfie opp!).
The active can warm-up for the dancing with a free 80s themed Barre class at Change Yoga, plus there’ll be late-night trade at the Scullin Traders (perfect Xmas shopping) as well as Another Chance op shop.
Beer and wine will be for sale at an outdoor bar complete with a chill-out area (beanbags galore on loan from the City Renewal Authority); food to buy from La Cassetta pizza or Sue’s Kitchen Chinese restaurant), jumping castles and a BBQ. Get on down!
Saturday 23 November from 4-8.30 pm | Scullin shops