November is Shop Small month, a nationwide movement founded by American Express that brings together support from the business community, governments and consumers to support small businesses — many of which are found in areas with a high proportion of LGBTI residents.

The Star Observer has selected small businesses in our major cities as a starting point to help you get in the spirit of the campaign. The list below pertains to Melbourne, but it’s just a start, so let us know of any other small businesses that deserve the LGBTI community’s support.

To find a full list of small businesses to support in your area, visit

Hares & Hyenas

61 Johnston St, Fitzroy

Ph: (03) 9495 6589

Now operating for well over 20 years, Melbourne’s iconic LGBTI bookshop Hares & Hyenas is nestled in amongst the Spanish restaurants along Johnston St in Fitzroy.

The store has primarily been a bookshop since opening in 1991, but over the years has transformed into a cafe and bar, a multi-purpose community hub, and an intimate performance venue hosting eclectic and daring artistic work from around Australia and the world.

Offering a huge range of fiction and non-fiction titles from Australian and international authors, Hares & Hyenas is the place to go for both big name LGBTI authors and hard-to-find books on a range of specialist subjects. You’ll find the latest Christos Tsiolkas bestseller sitting alongside obscure queer erotica, and an array of gay romance novels across the aisle from reference books on homophobia, same-sex parenting and masculinity studies.

Beyond serving as a one-stop shop for practical and academic resource books on LGBTI and queer topics, Hares & Hyenas stocks a whole range of other speciality items, including Australian and overseas magazines, CDs and DVDs, comic books and graphic novels, and even merchandise like accessories and calendars.

Owners Crusader Hillis and Rowland Thomson recently received a GLOBE Community Award for excellence in business, in recognition of their years of support for the city’s LGBTI community. The outpouring of support for the two after their win is proof of Hares & Hyenas’ status as a community treasure. As a community space Hares & Hyenas plays host to meetings for a wide diversity of groups from across Melbourne, and also gives back to the community through donations and support for causes and events.

Almost since its inception the store has been home to literary events for the public, with regular book readings, panel discussions, interviews and spoken word events. Evolving from bookshop to cafe and bar, Hares & Hyenas has also played host to frequent performances from local and international artists.

As the bookshop’s status as a live venue has expanded, Hares & Hyenas has rallied the community to help it remain LGBTI Melbourne’ premier community space and performance venue. It is currently in the midst of a crowd-funding effort to soundproof the building and expand the already-impressive program of parties and live performances.

Whether you’re looking for something to read, great live entertainment, excellent coffee or a space to connect with the community, Hares & Hyenas is the place to go.


Botanics of Melbourne

356 Punt Rd, South Yarra

Ph: (03) 9866 1282

Shane Sipolis opened his first florist business when he was just 19 years of age. Now with years of experience behind him, Botanics of Melbourne has become one of Melbourne’s most popular florists, with a beautiful, light-filled space in South Yarra showcasing the amazing and personal arrangements created by Shane and his team.

While Botanics of Melbourne serves a wide cross-section of Melbourne, the business’ particular focus on the LGBTI community and support for LGBTI organisations earned the florist a place as a finalist for the GLOBE Community Award for excellence in business this year.

Catering to every flower-related need you might have, the florist offers all the standards—bouquets, arrangements and decorations—along with more niche and tailored services. All sorts of corporate and personal events requiring custom arrangements and displays are just the beginning, with Botanics of Melbourne also stocking local and international gourmet food and drink for special occasions.

For anyone keen to try their hand at flower arranging and learn from the best, Botanics of Melbourne even offer floral and plant workshops. From designing eye-catching displays to things like suspended and vertical gardens, the workshops help people express their creative side through unique and personal projects.


Mocha Jo’s

87 Kingsway, Glen Waverley

Ph: (03) 9560 8444

Mocha Jo’s is a Glen Waverley institution, offering locals and visitors alike much-needed respite with great food and coffee. With extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, the cafe’s versatile offerings cater to everyone. Of course, one of the main reasons to go to Mocha Jo’s is the coffee, and the place has been proudly keeping the area caffeinated for 14 years. The cafe prides itself on excellent customer service, and provides a family-friendly atmosphere that’s welcoming to newcomers and keeps the regulars coming back for more.


Wilkins and Kent

230 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

Ph: (03) 9419 5251

Once you know what to look for, it’s hard not to notice the handiwork of Wilkins and Kent in the homes of most Fitzroy locals. The celebrated custom furniture and homewares store still manned by founders and furniture-makers Jeremy Wilkins and Stephen Kent has been fitting out the area’s homes for over 20 years. You can head in to the shop and take a look at the wide range of homewares and the standard lines of Wilkins and Kent furniture, but the store is really known for its made-to-order and custom work. Its long-standing status as a local icon means you can find Fitzroy houses filled with wall-to-wall Wilkins and Kent.

Seddon Deadly Sins

148 Victoria St, Seddon

Ph: (03) 9689 3092

Self-described as “Seddon’s best-kept secret”, this little cafe has been a favourite of Melbourne’s inner-west LGBTI communities for a while now. Known for its mouth-watering menu of decadent sweets and savouries, Seddon Deadly Sins earns its name. A proud supporter of the LGBTI community in Melbourne, the cafe has built its own community up around the simple love of good food and good coffee. If you’re at all on the fence about heading to Seddon to check the place out, head to their Facebook page and have your resolve worn down by photo after photo of amazing food.


Proud Mary

172 Oxford St, Collingwood

(03) 9417 5930

Peel Hotel

113 Wellington St, Collingwood

(03) 9419 4762

The Everleigh Melbourne

156/150 Gertrude St, Melbourne

(03) 9416 2229

Chapel St Bazaar

217 Chapel St, Prahran

(03) 9529 1727

Gado Hair and Beauty

6 Shakespeare Grove, St Kilda

(03) 9534 5676


1/139 Langridge St, Collingwood

(03) 9416 4800

Which small businesses in Melbourne do you recommend? Tell us with a comment below.

For a full listing of small businesses you can support, visit



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