Not so long ago, the tram Route 86 from Bourke Street to Bundoora was considered a bit grimy. The truth is, Smith Street, High Street and – increasingly – Plenty Road are now hubs for independent, innovative stores, galleries, bars and cafes. We love our little neck of the woods! So we want to share with you all of our favourite stops and encourage you all to get behind the small, local businesses that make these streets what they are this Christmas. And if you can #christmasroute86 in any social media posts, that would be even better. Here at The Goodness Bureau, our motto is “Let’s celebrate local this festive season!!!”

Part 3: Northcote (proper). (Click here for Part 1 or Part 2)

Well, what can we say about Northcote? Northcote is chock full of small, compelling businesses which makes it very hard to choose just a few. We narrowed our list down to less than ten from over thirty, so if we’ve missed one of your favourites, it was all for brevity (and as we all know, brevity is the soul of wit).

From Westgarth village, walk or take the tram up the hill and alight at Northcote Town Hall. Just down the street you’ll find Brown & Bunting Booksellers (237 High St, Northcote, tram stop 31). Brown & Bunting specialise in literature, children’s design and art, history, cooking and non-fiction secondhand books. If you’re a book lover, you will lose hours in Brown & Bunting, so make sure you set aside enough time to browse through the shelves and peruse their rare finds. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable.

Next stop, MiM Found Ena (239 High St, Northcote), an independent design studio with numerous Melbourne-made labels. They stock handmade and handpicked accessories, jewellery, ceramics, artworks and homewares, all of which are produced with sustainability in mind. You may even find some of the clothes being made in the store during your visit!

A short walk further down the street brings us to Green Horse (255 High St, Northcote). Green Horse is one of our favourite shops, not just on route 86, but in the whole of Melbourne! Sharing similar ethics to our own store, Green Horse offers hand-picked products from a collection of sustainable brands, with fashion forward pieces that are environmentally friendly and fair trade. Stocking an array of clothing, accessories and homewares, the owner and staff are super helpful and lovely!

Further along, you’ll come to I Dream a Highway (259 High St, Northcote). If the name didn’t give it away, I Dream a Highway is a little bit country and a whole lotta awesome! They stock a diverse range of vintage inspired pieces, Australian-designed fashion, accessories and homewares, and that’s not mentioning their awesome Western-style shirts. They also support local music with a range of albums for sale.

We could not pay a visit to High St in Northcote without stopping by The Book Grocer (263 High St, Northcote). High quality books in all kinds of genres at very reasonable prices. The Northcote branch also has a small cafe where you can caffeinate yourself in between book buying.

We already mentioned Big Dreams in Part 1 of #Christmasroute86, but there is also a Big Dreams in Northcote (269 High St, Northcote) so if you forgot to buy a little something for someone little, this is the place.

Our next stop was originally a pop up. The Guild Store – Sunday Morning Designs/Klei (269 High St, Northcote) moved in on a temporary basis, but there was no way Northcotites (Northcotians? We don’t know) were going to let them leave once they had shown off their beautiful wares. The Guild Store is now permanent! Filled with a beautiful selection of Sunday Morning Designs bedding, kids clothes and womenswear, stunning accessories from Klei and a gorgeous range of homewares, books and gifts from local designers and artists, it is chock full of local goodness!

A short stroll down High Street northwards brings us to Loving Hut (377-379 High St, Northcote). We realise that you’re probably still full of deliciousness from Trippy Taco and Shoku Iku, but just in case you aren’t, we have a suggestion for you: Loving Hut. Fully vegan and completely scrumptious, much of their food focuses on faux meat. If that doesn’t appeal, there are loads of other plant-based options including some of the best tofu rice paper rolls Melbourne has to offer. They come with a mint and thai basil pesto sauce that is simply divine (and very easy on the wallet, which may be of assistance after a hard day of Christmas shopping).

As part of Christmas on route 86, we want to hear from you when you’re shopping here! Take a photo of yourself outside the store, or a picture of what you bought from us, tag us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and slap on the hashtag #christmasroute86 and we’ll put you in the draw to win a delightful $100 gift pack. The winner will be drawn at random on Christmas Day and the pack sent to you post haste.

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