Home to a fascinating range of puppets, rare books, and lightboxes, the Magic Lantern Studio is perhaps the creepiest shop you will ever visit. Perhaps I've watched Chucky too many times, but some of those smiling dolls look like they are about to spring to life. A haven of pre-cinema era entertainment, Magic Lantern is a relatively new addition to Melbourne, having opened in late 2010.
The Spanish artist couple, Lucy and Gonzalo, who run the store have filled it with curios of their own making, including painted wooden bicycle seats which are now wall decor, and intricate marionettes.
The Magic Lantern Studio is located at 155 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. They are open every day except Tuesday from 11am until 6pm.
Collected Works lies behind this quaint shop front, quietly hidden away from the bustling CBD. Photo credit: Catherine O'Brien.
Nestled in the artsy Nicholas Building in the city, Collected Works is a haven of poetry books, both new and old. The only one of its kind in Melbourne, Collected Works frequently engaged its customers with poetry readings and launches of new anthologies- which you can keep up to date with by visiting their Facebook page.
Collected Works can be found on level one of 37 Swanston Street. They are a little tricky to find- keep going straight past Retro Star, then turn left and left again.
They are open 9:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Thursday, 9:30am to 6:00pm Friday, and 9:30am to 1:30pm Saturday.
The Railfan Shop
With a train station in a starring role, 'The Station Agent' is one of the many DVD titles available at The Railfan Shop.
Train enthusiasts find all the books, magazines, CDs and of course model railways at The Railfan Shop. They even have railway themed 'bookazines', which are like books in that they aren't periodical and have lots of information on a single subject, but look like magazines with their A4 size and glossy pages. At about $30 each, the bookazines at The Railfan Shop are priced more like books. They're not limited to just trains and trams- The Railfan Shop stocks the occasional bus themed calender or magazine.
The Railfan Shop is located at the intersection of Market Street and Flinders Lane and is open Monday to Thursday 9:00am to 5:30pm, Friday 9:00am to 7:00pm, and Saturday 9:00am to 4:00pm. Or, you can virtually visit them using Google Streetview here.
There are a few other similar stores for those whose hearts go aflutter at the sound of a steam train, including Train World, Branchline and Rail-N-Thusiast. These shops are more for those wishing to construct model railways and don't have the same selection of railway literature and multimedia.
The Haunted Bookshop
The Haunted Bookshop is famed for its huge collection of texts on the paranormal.
A spooky haven of the occult, The Haunted Bookshop caters for curious customers and serious practitioners of witchcraft alike. Endless new and used books on anything supernatural, including satanism, angels, conspiracy theories and tarot are available. Quirky dark jewellery, including amulets, pendants and earrings, is housed in heavy display cabinets.
Apparently the dark arts enjoy a sleep in, with The Haunted Bookshop being open from 12:00pm to 5:00pm Tuesday to Friday, and 12:00pm to 4:00pm Saturday. Visit at 15 McKillop Street, Melbourne.
The Very Curious Kitten isn't your average indie-chic fashion store- every single accessory or piece of clothing has been ethically made. They guarantee that their stock is either handmade, recycled or not made using sweatshop labour. However, you'd be hard pressed to find the hippie clothing which usually characterises Fairtrade stores, with their kitsch retro style.
Find it at 138 Lygon Street, Brunswick East between the erratic opening hours of 11:00am to 6:00pm Wednesday and Thursday, 1:15pm to 6:00pm Friday, 11:00am to 5:00pm Saturday, and 12:00pm to 5:00pm Sunday.
Wunderkammer has an extensive collection of medical and scientific curiousities.
You can't discuss Melbourne's weirdest shops without mentioning Wunderkammer. A scientific curiosity shop stocking a creepy collection of old dental pliers, skeletons and fossils, insect specimens, storm glasses and plenty more; Wunderkammer is worth a visit whether you're an eccentric collector or just want to browse.
Visit at 439 Lonsdale Street in the city, between 10:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, or 10:00am to 4:00pm Saturday.