Freelance writer specialising in serendipity: the art of finding wonderful things by accident or sagacity. Comments and suggestions always welcome!
Published December 30th 2013
Update February 19th 2014
The Myre Project has been renamed Many 6160 and now has a Facebook page with all the latest news.
What can you do with an abandoned department store?
It's pretty easy to recycle stuff around the house. The handy yellow-top bin provides plenty of room for newspapers, bottles and cans. Op shops take clothes and furniture. But is it possible to recycle a whole building? This was the problem Fremantle faced when Myer closed its doors early in 2013 after 40 years in the port city. Retailers and local government worried that a vacant five storey building in the centre of the shopping area would have an adverse effect on the remaining businesses. What to do? Enter Spacemarket, a not-for-profit business that specialises in "pairing disused spaces with useful people".
Fremantle has long had a bohemian vibe, with artists, designers and craftspeople trying to promote their work and make a living from their talent. The Myer building offered 4,000 sqm of floor space. Spacemarket combined the two into the Myre Project, an alternative department store which is possibly the world's largest pop-up shop. In addition to retail, with so much space available, plans for the building include galleries, studios, offices and even a rooftop bar.
The ground floor retail space, recently renamed MANY, opened in mid-October. It's a large space that still features some of the Myer fittings but the resemblance ends there. The escalators are curtained off by thick red velvet drapes and most of the shop fittings are made from wooden pallets. It's more sophisticated than a collection of market stalls but still has a relaxed, organic feel.
There's a great selection of fashion, beauty, homewares, food and art, with most designed and produced locally. Check out the unique offerings of shops such as Amicus Collective menswear, Feast Your Eyes gallery, Kate & Abel café and gifts plus many others. There are also special events like art and music evenings and a life drawing class.
Early in December the rooftop bar opened. Known as Dave's Cans, they're an open air event space offering "beer, bands and good times". The bar was an instant success with events selling out quickly. Opening times vary so check the Facebook page or Twitter feed for the latest information.
The Myre Project is not permanent as the building will eventually be redeveloped, but it's a great use of vacant space, an excellent showcase for quality local products and well worth a visit.
MANY @ Myre is open Wednesday to Friday from 10am to 6pm, Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.