Every time I go back to Melbourne I make a bee line for the assorted Laneways in the CBD. There's something really inviting, even 'grounding' about them, which invites your gaze as you view their eclectic offerings. The great thing about the Laneways, other than the fact that they put some individuality back into retail, is that they support so many emerging designers. Sure, people are renting these spaces but they attract a large number of unique businesses who collectively help Melbourne with it's reputation for innovation.
The roofed arcade where my Melbourne Bison store resides (Howey Place) is one such location. It has a smattering of chain brands but these are overshadowed by people like fashion designer Nevenka, Swedish Bookbinder, and soon an exciting culinary addition!!!! I must admit it's great to go down and walk in on a cold night and have a glass of red wine in Solarino next to my store. I think it's actually the appeal of a village lifestyle, and the relationships you build with people in your neighbourhood, which makes it feel so welcoming. If you ever are in town go and take a leisurely walk through the Block Arcade and look at the architecture. It's well worth it.