Canberra: Shop 'til you drop

Canberra Insider
Electric Shadows Bookshop (Photo: Richard I'Anson/Lonely Planet)
Electric Shadows Bookshop
"Do you need another pair of imported Italian shoes? No. Will you be tempted anyway? … Probably."
Canberra Insider

Landspeed Records

If you'll forgive the pun and make it inside, you'll love this shop. The front section is devoted to music and music memorabilia but I always head for the back; the mezzanine level is devoted to young designers and second-hand clothes. I can't count the number of times I've asked a friend where they got that fabulous dress from, and the answer has been Landspeed.

Unit Concepts

Unit Concepts is a surprisingly big shop with a huge variety of merchandise: from Marimekko to bacon band-aids, gumboots to swirly skirts. I have a fetish for Third Drawer Down tea-towels, which I can always get here.

Electric Shadows Bookshop

Electric Shadows Bookshop is the remnant of Canberra's most loved but unfortunately now defunct art-house cinema. They have a considered range of books and an interesting selection of DVDs and box sets. They also do a range of hire-out flicks, from foreign to cult, that you won't find in any other Canberra video store.

Smith's Alternative Bookshop

I reckon Smith's has the friendliest (and most passionate) staff in Canberra. Smith's stocks new releases and bestsellers but offer much more. Need a moon chart? Have a love of poetry? They've got your sorted. They also host great literary events. A big up-yours to corporate book chain-stores.

Nomad Gallery

Famous in Darwin for years, Nomad has recently opened a gallery in Canberra's Manuka, specialising in Indigenous art, especially high-quality limited edition prints and craft work. The staff are hugely knowledgeable and super friendly.

Abel's Music

Abel's stocks a specialist range of classical and jazz CDs as well as DVDs. If they don't have it, they'll order it in for you.


Tucked in behind Essen Café, this tiny boutique is good for T-shirts and jumpers. From Garema Place, find the sign that says "Garema Arcade" and walk through to Felt. They always have stacks of street press and flyers to find out what's going on in Canberra.

Down Memory Lane

Down Memory Lane is a Canberra hidden secret tucked in behind industrial supply shops and is full of beautifully selected second hand and antique items at reasonable prices. Perfect for finding a gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone, from books, to clothes and accessories, old-fashioned kitchenware to furniture. Found at the very end of a the Geelong St cul-de-sac off Canberra Ave.

Escala Shoes

Do you need another pair of imported Italian shoes? No. Will you be tempted anyway? … Probably. Go to Escala Shoes.

National Gallery of Australia Shop

The NGA shop has the best range of art books in Canberra. They also stock an ever-changing range relating to whatever exhibition is on at the time. If you're looking for a souvenir of Canberra, I recommended the gold and silver miniatures of the NGA's famous pear sculptures. If that doesn’t satisfy, hop across to the National Portrait Gallery Shop for a beautifully curated range of books, quirky jewels, homewares and gifts.

itrip iskip

The guys at itrip iskip are always on top of the latest fashions but in a slightly quirky way, housing many objects of desire for Canberra's trendy young things. Lonsdale Street in Braddon is home to a smattering of cool stores and is good for an afternoon wander (30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon).

Do you know any other great shopping spots in Canberra? Tell us about it using the comments form below.

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User comments
Love Smiths, have shopped there a couple of times and agree with the author - lovely staff and very informative.
I had been happily shopping here for five years since I moved to Canberra without incident, until one day I made an offer on an object and was rudely shot-down by the owner. Then after I said 'no worries', a burly man followed me round the shop giving me a death stare. I ended up buying a pair of shoes, but still was followed out of the shop by the burly man, who proceeded to death stare me outside. Considering my long term support of the shop & recommending it to collectors I know interstate, this was a pretty lousy way to deal with a customer. I have been collecting for over 20 years & have managed an Antique Centre, so I am accustomed to how a good shop is run & what constitutes good service.
Canberra's hidden treasure, Bijoux Jewellers, tucked away in Centrepoint Arcade near the Merry-Go-Round. They have been there for at least 20 years, and really are the best, most innovative jeweller in Canberra. It's like entering an Alladins Cave of treasures, lot's of interesting one off pieces, American Indian jewellery as well as local designers. Most of the staff are Goldsmiths or Jewellers, great product knowledge and really interested in what they do.