Melbourne’s celebrated laneways are a distinct part of the city’s appeal: just the place to linger with a latte or browse the unique shops.
Degraves St is one of the more celebrated thoroughfares, and its array of cafes cater to all tastes. But its appeal goes beyond dining and there are several treats at the Flinders St end for the discerning shopper.
At Clementine’s the shelves are packed with must-have produce and handicrafts, perfect as a distinctive gift or a treat for yourself.
The range features desirable products sourced from across Victoria, such as Mount Zero Olives, Yarra Valley Tea and Mörk Chocolate.
“What I sell is just great stuff that’s got a wonderful following but may not have an outlet here,” owner Melanie Ashe said.
Her inspiration for the store was a trip to Paris, where she struggled to find gifts from the region and – once home – decided. As she explained: “It’s a passion of mine to make sure these businesses have an avenue. I cater for the discerning tourist and the Melbourne traveller who wants something of quality.”
Little stands between Melburnians and their coffee (or artisan products), so it’s business as usual in Degraves St while construction gathers pace on the city-shaping Metro Tunnel Project.
The eastbound traffic lanes of nearby Flinders St are closed for up to three years – but Melanie and her fellow businesses are reminding shoppers they are open as usual. And with Christmas fast approaching, there is plenty to inspire gift ideas.
Melanie stocks more than 100 different producers – all from Victoria. Alongside the edible attractions are delights such as the Dindi Naturals skincare range (produced in Murrindindi Shire), with its enticing scents of wattle-seed, lemongrass, pepperberry and mint eucalyptus, as well as local ceramics, jewellery and much more.
“If people want to support local businesses this is an easy way to do it,” she said. “They are getting something unique, something different.”
Melanie extols the virtues of her fellow traders nearby: Il Papiro, selling luxurious and elegant stationery, Sine Qua Non jewellery and John Fluevog Shoes.
So while the Metro Tunnel Project is creating a few essential traffic changes, it’s business as usual in this popular precinct.
As Melanie said: “Come and explore your town, don’t let the disruption stop you – we’re open for business.”