Not many people know this about Geelong, but it’s got one of the highest vintage-market-to-person ratios on the planet. We haven’t done the maths, but it’s something like 1:3 (give or take, you know...)
It’s kind of refreshing actually. Melbourne’s vintage scene has mostly been picked over like a wildebeest carcass, the best pieces sold to re-sellers and marked up a bazillion percent. In Geelong there’s a good chance you can still snag some sweet bargains. You just need to know where to look.
Here’s a bargain hunter’s guide to Geelong’s best vintage markets.
Geelong Vintage Market
Geelong Vintage Markets is probably our favourite warehouse in town, but it’s also a little more expensive than the competition. There are a few reasons for this: a) the quality of the stock, b) prime real estate on the Princes Hwy, and c) Picker’s Union cafe next door, which gets super busy on weekends.
Like most of Geelong’s vintage spaces, GVM is divided into lots, each owned by a local second-hand dealer. The Scandi-style furniture is always on-point, and down back there’s a maze of clothes racks with every fashion known to man (and some that man would rather forget). The stock rotates pretty regularly, and you can usually spot Melbourne TV scouts on the hunt for weird costumes or useful props. Highly recommend.
123 Retro Antiques
You’ll find 123 Retro Antiques literally next door to Geelong Vintage Markets (seriously, set aside a good hour to explore the whole complex). This place is a little more hit and miss, but you can still pick up a bargain if you know what you’re looking for. Expect renovated 1950s lounge sets galore, huge ornate dressers, piles of dog-eared paperbacks, industrial toolboxes and half-rusted knick-knacks. There’s also a massive collection of antique jewellery (we’re not sure, but we think 123 might have some sort of long-running deal with the grandmothers of Geelong).
The Amazing Mill Markets
‘Mill Markets’ for short. This place is genuinely festooned with collectables. Seriously, it would be almost impossible to physically fit more stuff into a single warehouse. You’ll find it on the Bellarine Hwy near Moolap, on the way out to Drysdale and Queenscliff (it’s hard to miss, what with the giant fibreglass dinosaurs out front).
The Mill Markets is the Bellarine’s default vintage shopping destination. It’s open seven days a week and stocks everything from antiques and old furniture to glassware, second-hand clothes, books, records, china, collectable football cards and the Arc of the Covenant (probably). There’s an urban legend about a young man that got lost in Mill Markets and discovered a parallel fantasy universe behind some old fur coats. True story.
Kerleys Auction House
Everyone in Geelong knows Kerleys. It’s been sitting on Moorabool St in the CBD since time immemorial. Although this isn’t your typical vintage warehouse, it’s definitely worth a rummage on your way through town. If you spot something you like, just swing by on Auction Day (usually every Tuesday from 9:30am to 4pm). You can ask the staff to give you an estimate of what they think it might go for, too. If you can’t make it back down the highway, Kerleys can even bid on your behalf. Vintage furniture is the big one at Kerleys, but you can find everything from old radios to paintings, prints and musical instruments. Going once, going twice, sold!
We’re including Pegasus for the sake of completeness. Technically it IS possible to get a bargain here, but only if your budget has several zeroes on the end. The price tags at Pegasus can be hefty, but you kind of get what you pay for. This isn't a warehouse for beaten-up vintage furniture or rusty garden equipment. Think more exquisite armoires, mahogany bookcases and other stuff from Rose’s bedroom on Titanic. Most of the stock is over 100 years old and comes with a certificate of authenticity. If you’ve got cash to splash (or want to twink out that wedding registry), swing by Pegasus and start daydreaming. It’s vintage for rich people.
Don’t let the pun put you off, this place has some pretty zany vintage stuff for sale. Need a giant metal petrol sign from the 1970s? Done. How about an antique kerosene heater? Sounds super safe. Maybe an enormous rhinoceros sculpture, carved from oak? Your wish is their command. Like the name suggests, How Bazaar is where you come when you don’t really know what you want (you just know that you want it). You’ll be lucky to find a Pinterest-level mid-century writing desk, but weird conversation pieces are pretty much guaranteed. How can we put this...Daryl Kerrigan would have LOVED this place.
Salvos | Barwon Terrace
Bring a trailer to the Salvation Army Store in Barwon Terrace. The furniture here is very large and very cheap, in that order. We’re still using wooden dining chairs that we picked up here for $5 a pop in 2015 (not even kidding). It’s probably not the trendiest stuff, but if your taste runs to mint suede couches from the 1980s that feel like you’re sitting on giant marshmallows...you just hit the mother load. There’s also the usual mix of household miscellany—lamps, crockery, cutlery, books, records etc. Everything is dirt cheap, but you might have to do a bit of creative rummaging to find the best stuff.
If Melbournians are flies, Pakington St is Geelong’s honeypot. You’ll find daytrippers and recently moved ex-pats here on weekends, chugging flat whites and browsing for designer goods. But if you keep walking towards North Geelong (where, let’s just say, flat whites are less common) you’ll stumble across half a dozen excellent vintage stores. There’s the Geelong West Vinnies, a well-stocked Salvos, the MS op-shop and the Fight Cancer Foundation, to name just a few. Make sure to swing into the V&R Fresh Food Market to pick up oodles of cheap, delicious fruit, too. It’s much cheaper than Geelong Fresh Foods down the road.
Vintage Warehouse Geelong
Not to be confused with Geelong Vintage Market (see above). This place has moved recently to the old Corio Distillery (35 Lowe St, if Google Maps is wondering). You have to enter at Gate 3, at the rear of the warehouse. Stock-wise, there’s an interesting mix of industrial odds and ends (ladders, furniture, strange big metal drums), plus rows and rows of second-hand clothes and a decent mix of vintage furniture. The goods change all the time, so it’s a bit hard to plan your shop—just head down and see what’s new. DIY-ers, Vintage Warehouse also stocks a sizeable amount of rare and used timber. You won’t find this stuff at Bunnings.
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Image credit: Return Of The Roadtrip