Seven exciting small businesses opened the doors to their first shop fronts on Tuesday (March 2) under the Renew Fitzroy Street initiative delivered by Port Phillip Council, Fitzroy Street Business Association (FSBA) and Renew Australia.

Council contributed $75,000 to the enterprise, which was matched by the FSBA.

The forward-thinking program has seen several landlords donate their vacant shops to up-and-coming traders, with rolling 30-day rent-free licences negotiated by Renew Australia, giving the temporary traders time to test the market without committing to a lengthy commercial lease agreement.

(re)new approach to fitzroy street launches

The Renew Fitzroy Street participants have been chosen to complement, not compete with, the existing mix of retail in the precinct, encouraging locals and visitors alike to venture down to the famous street to support the new traders, while discovering or revisiting another shop, café or bar at the same time.

The shops will remain up for rent throughout the duration of the project, with property owners hoping the renewed buzz along the shopping strip will encourage businesses to join the established Fitzroy Street neighbourhood.

Renew Fitzroy Street participants:

• Shop 1/63 Fitzroy Street – Farm Goat SUDS Soap (goat milk soaps)
• Shop 2/63 Fitzroy Street – Mike Stretch Finds (Australian streetwear)
• Shop 4/63 Fitzroy Street – ARTWORKS St Kilda Artists Collective – Flo & Co. (florist) – Mr Macramé (fibre arts, wall hangings, plant hangers and more) – Rus Kitchin – Visual Artist and Cartographer of Chaos (visual artist) – Tom Cerdan – Autodidact Artist (visual artist)
• Shop 7/63 Fitzroy Street – Calistags Plants (living art pieces)

Quote attributable to City of Port Phillip Mayor Louise Crawford

“We’ve been working closely with Renew Australia and the Fitzroy Street Business Association on this project so it’s fantastic to see it all come together. We wish the new traders well and hope they, along with their established counterparts, all benefit from this clever concept. Fitzroy Street has had some tough times, but we believe there is a real feel of rejuvenation underway which will only increase when the Victorian Pride Centre opens this year.”

Quote attributable to Renew CEO Angela Simons

“Renew Fitzroy Street has been designed to bring new ideas and businesses to this iconic shopping strip to increase foot traffic and engagement with the area – a great opportunity for our participants, as well as existing traders. None of this would have been possible without the generosity of property owners.”

Quote attributable to Fitzroy Street Business Association President David Blakeley

“This is such an exciting opportunity for some of Melbourne’s best creatives to join an established retail environment, where they can test out their ideas and build an in-person customer base. We’re hoping the flow-on effect of Renew Fitzroy Street will be the further growth and development of Fitzroy Street into one of Melbourne’s most vibrant and sought-after commercial zones.”

Quote attributable to Thomson Real Estate Agent Chris Stoupas (on behalf of property owners)

“The retail leasing environment has faced many challenges over the last few years so when we were approached by Renew Australia, we were excited to participate. We hope this will give the new tenants the lift they need and result in vacancies ultimately being filled.”

Quotes attributable to Calistags Plants owner Sophie Brabenec

“The partnership between Port Phillip Council, Fitzroy Street Business Association and Renew Australia has provided an incredible opportunity to expand Calistags Plants into retail premises in the heart of St Kilda. The concept of bringing small businesses into vacant spaces rent-free means I can have a go at growing my business, without many of the financial challenges start-ups like myself usually face.”

Renew Australia has successfully tailored retail projects in Docklands, Geelong and Wollongong and many other cities around Australia.

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