25 house loads of vintage stock – Melbourne’s best kept vintage secret…
Alistair McLean
Category: Interiors

What is Melbourne’s best kept vintage secret?

Alistair: Posted on Monday, 24 June 2013 11:54 PM


Pic above – One of Secret Design Studio’s favourite stall holders “Global Retro” has some fantastic lamps. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Global-Retro/150336775007535

It has always puzzled Secret Design Studio why there are so many quirky and interesting vintage and retro shops in the inner suburbs such as Collingwood, Preston, Prahran, Abbotsford etc whereas our best mid-century modern houses are in the suburbs such as Balwyn, Blackburn and Beaumaris.

Yet the housing stock in these inner suburbs is mostly Victorian 19th century and early 21st century with not a lot of mid 20th century building.  Is there some retro-gravity force pulling all of the interesting vintage stock from the outer suburbs into the inner suburbs?

Secret Design Studio currently has clients in Balwyn and Blackburn who are on the lookout for some nice quality vintage pieces to finish off their mid-century modern homes and are having to travel to the inner north to source the right stuff.

Over the weekend Secret Design Studio discovered where some of the right stuff from the suburbs is going, and I think it is Melbourne’s best kept vintage secret.

Imagine getting a large 5500 square foot factory, complete with cool room, and dividing it up into 170 different stalls that each seem to have a vintage speciality or interest. Then locate the factory down a long driveway, behind a warehouse, on a side street in a semi-industrial/commercial part of Glen Waverley. So just how big is 5500 square feet? Imagine about 25 mid-century modern houses, with each room stacked to the ceiling with vintage stock!


Pic above – a completely anonymous street in Glen Waverley, with a mixture of commercial and semi-industrial buildings is a good place to hide Melbourne’s best kept vintage secret. No retail, no residential and no passing traffic.

I don’t believe you could do a better job of hiding it, with only a small signboard on the street to indicate its location, and with no other similar businesses in the area, it really is Melbourne’s best kept vintage secret.  Secret Design Studio has lived and worked within twenty minutes of the Waverley Antique Bazaar for the past eight years and it is so well concealed that its very existence has until recently been unknown to Secret Design Studio.  In fact I even took the Secret Design Studio site car to get some repairs done in the same street not so long ago (it is that sort of street) and the Waverley Antique Bazaar managed to remain hidden from my consciousness.


Pic above – Once you have ventured into the backblocks of Glen Waverley and found the street and address you need to venture down this driveway, turn left and find a carpark.  The actual building is concealed from the street by the buildings facing the street.

The Waverley Antique Bazaar at 11a Aristoc Road, Glen Waverley is run along similar lines to other vintage markets such as the Chapel Street Bazaar, Prahran, and Lost and Found market in Collingwood, but on a much larger scale than both of these, in fact they claim to be Melbourne’s biggest.  As with any of these vintage markets the stock is variable in quality compared to a dedicated vintage shop with a single owner who lovingly sources only the best pieces, often from overseas in top condition.  As the vintage markets are run by numerous small stall holders who source their stock locally there is a much wider range of quality and prices.


Pic above Waverley Antique Bazaar https://www.facebook.com/waverleyantiquebazaar

The other big difference between a vintage market and a vintage shop is the amount and size of the furniture.  The stall holders in a vintage market are often restricted by the size of their space to a limited number of pieces, whereas somebody running a vintage shop usually has the space for more and larger pieces.  So if you are on the lookout for a three piece vintage lounge you are probably better off starting with the inner city shops rather than the vintage markets.

However if you are looking for smaller pieces, such as vases, lights, cannisters, vintage magazines or individual items of furniture, such as stools, small tables, desk chairs etc, then I would suggest a vintage market is a great place to start.


Pic above – One of Secret Design Studio’s favourite stall holders “Global Retro” has some fantastic lamps. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Global-Retro/150336775007535

Even the name is a little bit misleading.  By definition the term “antique” suggests items 100 years old and older, however most of the items there were definitely 20th century.  For Secret Design Studio any enterprise with the word “antique” in its title suggests cedar furniture, pieces reminiscent of old England, usually highly decorative, uncomfortable, often 20th century reproductions and overpriced. Yes there were some pieces that matched Secret Design Studio’s understanding of antique, but they were in the minority.


Pic above – Waverley Antique Bazaar Stall B16 www.facebook.com/waverleyantiquebazaar

For fans of Australian mid-century modern furniture the name Aristoc may seem familiar.  Aristoc Industries produced much of Grant Featherston’s  furniture throughout the ’60s, including the stylish Scape armchairs and designs like the Mitzi and Delmar. His steel-frame designs for Aristoc were produced in great volume and are still available, providing you know what to look for.


Pic above – Grant Featherston’s Mitzi and Scape chairs by Aristoc Industries.


Original chairs should have either a metal label or a stamp identifying the designer and manufacturer. These may have been removed when they were recovered, or may be later versions. Secret Design Studio found these chairs which were claimed by the stall holder to be Aristoc Industries, however I didn’t get the chance to give them a close look to see if they   still had their original stamp. As with any second hand furniture from a dealer, auction or market the buyer should conduct there own research to establish the vendors claim of heritage.  However with their “floating” seat they certainly look very similar to Grant Featherston’s Mitzi chair (above pic)…..Untitled8

So Aristoc Road, Glen Waverley is the original home of Aristoc Industries, and while the Waverley Antiques Bazaar is the largest building on the street I don’t think it was ever used for furniture production.  One corner of the factory is called the cool room, and not because it has the coolest vintage stock and stalls, but as it is a large fully insulated room, probably big enough to park 9 or so cars in, that was probably used for some sort of food process or storage.


Secret Design Studio popped in for a quick look as a client was looking for some large acrylic retro style letters. One of the Waverley Antique Bazaar stores specializes in these and I wanted to check them out before suggesting them.  Anyway two hours later of browsing and examining all sorts of interesting bits and pieces I came across the acrylic number stall tucked away in a corner of the cool room.


Pic above Stall M31 (in the Coolroom) www.facebook.com/waverleyantiquebazaar

Like any community of vintage stall holders each stall seemed to have its own personality, some dedicated to vintage fashion, some to vintage toys, some to vintage garage/workshop tools,  some to kitchenalia, some to 1950’s furniture and light fittings etc.  Like any community of vintage stall holders there were items that appealed to Secret Design Studio, and stuff that looked like it was left over from a garage sale, but you need to take the good with the bad.


Pic above Balangara Vintage Stall L17 https://www.facebook.com/BalangaraVintage


Prices seemed to be reasonable compared to some of the similar offerings I have seen in trendy areas like Prahran.  This may be due to its location and the competition from 169 other stall holders for the buyer’s dollar.  Some stall holders like “Michael” even had his name and mobile number advertised in case anybody wanted to discount, ie haggle for a better deal over the phone!


Pic Above Mobile Mandy Stall H4 www.facebook.com/waverleyantiquebazaar

All the items had tags with the store holder’s number and price and some shoppers were even carrying around red plastic supermarket baskets as they browsed.  A lot of the glassware and jewellery items were locked away in glass display cases which could only be opened by a staff member with a key which is standard practice with this style of vintage market.


Pic above Stall B9 www.facebook.com/waverleyantiquebazaar

The regulars and stall holders were easy to spot as they were rugged up like they were going on a ski trip.  As it is a factory/warehouse space it is not insulated, nor heated or air-conditioned.  A few stalls were collecting condensation drips from the rafters – I even saw a beautifully oiled teak sideboard ($1250) collecting drops of water on its newly restored topic


Piic above stall A14 www.facebook.com/waverleyantiquebazaar

Some other links I have found to stalls that I haven’t mentioned include:





My quick pop-in visit lasted two hours of browsing.  Part of the problem is that it is so large you really need to take note of anything you may want to revisit so that it is easy to come back to purchase, or carry around one of the red supermarket baskets.  Next time I visit I will be dressing for comfort and not style – beanie, ugh boots, carrying a thermos of coffee and a wallet full of cash.