The dynamic retail collective housed in the old Myer building has a new home. From March 2017, the eclectic pop-up with a difference is bringing new life to the old Spotlight building on Adelaide Street.
When it first opened in October 2013, nobody quite knew how long MANY 6160 (then known as MYRE) would inhabit the building vacated by the department store. Six months? Nine? More than three years later, the temporary concept store (a mix of retail and makers workspaces) is still busy incubating independent businesses. It’s part of an emerging trend in retail that shuns the bland, soulless shopping centre vibe in favour of a fresher, more experimental approach.
“MANY has been a huge, important and interesting project,” says project manager Kate Hulett of its first incarnation in Kings Square. She names the unusual nature of the building and the cooperation and flexibility of its owner Sirona and the City of Fremantle as contributing factors to its success. “Where else would you find 20,000 square metres of space to do something like this? And where else would this work but in Fremantle?”
MANY 6160 has housed an evolving line-up of retailers selling hats, artwork, vintage clothing, retro furniture, artisan lamps, jewellery and footwear. Its rooftop has seen two new bars, a couple of motorbike shows and at least one wedding. Its basement has witnessed everything from mini golf to an acclaimed art gallery to performances by Falls Festival DJs. Upstairs, furniture makers, costume designers, upholsterers, surfboard makers, metal workers and artists have toiled away on their own projects, in the company of like-minded folk.
It’s one of the hallmarks of MANY, says Kate. Unlike other small businesses where people work alone, the retailers and makers here can talk, connect and sometimes collaborate as a result of the communal space. As well as nurturing a vibrant community, MANY is a way for people to test their businesses without taking on prohibitive leases.
For customers, the benefits lie in the variety, the original wares and the accessibility. People can wander between shops, read books or enjoy the café without feeling pressured to buy. Kate sees it as a space where mums, grandparents, hipsters and teenagers can feel equally at ease.
Vacating the premises for the Kings Square redevelopment (the space will become mixed use office and retail) has brought a new opportunity: to reenergise another dead space with a new-look pop-up.
Overseen once again by Spacemarket, the Adelaide Street space has a similar vibe but a different look. Retail stores laid out on the diagonal, for example. The café (opening soon) will front both the retail floor and the outside lane near Westgate Mall. It’s hoped that regular events will take shape here.
The makers have embarked on a diaspora of their own. Some have moved to studios at the old Fremantle Police Station (cleverly renamed MANY 000), while others plumped for a warehouse at North Fremantle’s Matilda Bay Brewing. Others still are headed for East Perth.
In Adelaide Street, MANY’s retail philosophy holds. MANY 2.0 prides itself on being an outlet for hard-to-find, often handmade items that are unique to Western Australia, in a space that feels interesting and creative.
“It would be hard to manufacture the feel of MANY in a cold, new building,” says Kate, who has relished revitalising the derelict Spotlight store–which will be demolished within the next two years for new apartments–into MANY’s next temporary space.
“There’s no sadness in the closure of the old place. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to refresh.”
MANY 2.0 opens it's doors for business Thursday 16 March. Shout out to the project partners Yolk Property, Spacemarket & the City of Fremantle for unlocking another underutilised building and bringing it back to life. An official opening with all the bells and whistles is planned for Saturday 8 April.