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Goodbye Tarlo & Graham

Shopping

The time has come for beloved Melbourne institution Tarlo & Graham to pack up shop. What a loss!

As this era draws to a close for business partners William Tarlo and Phillip Graham, we reflect on the evolution of their much-loved store, and the challenges faced by bricks-and-mortar retailers generally, as shopping habits change, and rents continue to rise.

There is one silver lining for antique-lovers though – the mother of all ‘closing down sales’ is on now, in Fitzroy.

8th May, 2018

The legendary local business first opened on Chapel Street, Windsor in 2004! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Business partners William and Phillip decided to leave their Getrude Street location on a high, before retail declines entirely on the increasingly popular Fitzroy street. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

The eclectic store houses a unique range of stock from antique to modern, colonial Australian to European. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Business partners Phillip Graham (left) and William Tarlo. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

One perk of the store’s closure is the closing down sale, with stock at bargain prices! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Tarlo & Graham came to Fitzroy in 2012 and is renowned for the ‘unique, exotic and unusual’. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

A collector’s dream store! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

A look into just a small cabinet of curiosities. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

William and Philip are still bringing stock in from the warehouse, as well as selling pieces from their personal collections. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Goodbye and good luck to this Fitzroy institution! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 8th May 2018

‘We decided to go out on a high, rather than being forced to in a couple of years.’ – Phillip Graham.

When I first started The Design Files ten years ago, it was really a place to document the discoveries I was making whilst working as a set dresser and budding stylist. My job back then involved scouring local design stores for unique finds and building great relationships with retailers, at a time when very few furniture stores had an online presence (and Instagram wasn’t even around yet!). I was keenly aware, at that time, of the contribution that creative retailers make to the unique character of a city.

One of the retailers I used to frequent in those days was Tarlo & Graham. Specialising in the ‘unique, exotic and unusual’, T&G is known for their brilliantly eclectic finds, and their unique way of styling and presenting their collections. In the early 2000’s, these guys built a cult following. Visiting their store really was like visiting a sort of gallery – ever-changing, endlessly creative, and always inspiring.

But, it’s 2018, and retail in Melbourne has changed – big time.

Two weeks ago, Tarlo and Graham put a ‘Closing Down Sale’ in their shop window, and I can’t help but feel a smidgen sad about this loss of a legendary local business!

T&G first opened in Chapel Street, Windsor in 2004, and relocated to Gertrude Street, Fitzroy in 2012. Their closure, after 14 years (!), fits within a city-wide trend. Of course, things change, and suburbs naturally evolve over time. But the loss of independent design, craft and fashion businesses in swiftly developing Melbourne areas, and rising property prices does feel like a loss of identity and a move away from what made those precincts exciting to begin with.

For William and Philip, the decision wasn’t down to any one factor – after 14 years in business, they were ready for a change! But Phillip did explain a general sense of foreboding about the future. ‘We decided to go out on a high, rather than being forced to in a couple of years, when, let’s face it, there will be very little exciting retailing going on,’ he said.

And that’s why, I guess, this news has hit a nerve. I’ve always been a firm believer that creative retailers really are a huge part of the ‘cultural capital’ of any city.  High street shopping contributes so much to a city’s unique personality, and that contribution is about a lot more than just selling stuff. So I can’t help but wonder, is it actually viable for creative, independent bricks-and-mortar retailers to operate in high street locations these days? We’re just not sure.

On a happier note, William and Philip reassure us that they are moving on to new and exciting ventures, and are ready for a change, a big holiday and ‘smelling some flowers’!

One (major) perk of the impending closure is the SALE now underway at their Fitzroy store. Inevitably, everything must go – at unprecedented bargain prices. The business partners have a whole warehouse of furniture and collectibles to re-home, as well as pieces from their own individual collections.

As we trawl through this retail cabinet of curiosities priced to clear, we wish William and Philip the best on their future ventures. They’ve told us they both plan to renovate their respective homes… so, in all likelihood, this won’t be the last they hear from us!

Tarlo & Graham
202 Gertrude Street
Fitzroy, Victoria
Open Monday to Friday 11am – 6pm, Saturday 10am – 5pm, and Sunday 11am – 4pm.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net