The efforts of a small group of dedicated local volunteers have yielded fantastic results at the once-neglected Scullin Shops.
Three years ago, fed up with the state of the shops and inspired by a conversation about community responsibility at the school fete, Scullin Community Group (SCG) president Sue White said to committee member Emily Brindley: “You know what? Let’s revitalise the Scullin shops.”
“We didn’t have any clue how it would be done. We just said we were going to do it and people got really excited about it.”
Sue has since gathered a team of dedicated volunteers who form the backbone of the SCG committee.
“We realised that lots of people wanted to do something, they just didn’t know what to do or how to do it,” Sue told Region Media.
“So really, that’s what the Scullin Community Group has done. We’ve been the initiators of ‘this is how you can do things’, but also just giving a framework for people to have their own ideas.”
So far, they have greened the courtyard – “our town square” – with planter boxes and flowers, received grants to fund two colourful murals, and inspired a string of street libraries. They even had their own shop: The Scullin Traders, which operated from May 2019 to March 2020. It was a volunteer-run pop-up fundraiser, but it was also an important step in showcasing the potential of the space.
“We wanted to see how a shop would go here and try to encourage businesses to move in there,” Ms Brindley explained.
“But mainly, it was a really great meeting point to meet other community members, and people were so excited that something else was happening down at the shops.”
The Scullin Traders wrapped up in March 2020, but its legacy has continued to create positive change in Scullin. Two SCG committee members decided to purchase the space and were determined to lease it to a cafe. After early offers fell through, they turned to Emily and her husband Russell, the owners of the popular Sweet Bones cafe and bakery in Braddon. Emily says it was meant to be.
“We weren’t exactly looking for a second location, but we kind of manifested it! I just always had a good feeling about the Scullin shops.”
Sue is really excited to see new landlords who will take an interest in the community.
“Normally, a landlord would take on a shop … and they’re not so concerned with who rents it. But community members really care who rents it.
“You want something where you can go and connect, and you can go and meet people, and that sparks a bit of joy about where you live,” she says.
The cafe will open in early 2022 next door to Change Yoga Studio and the soon-to-be-opened African grocery Neemah Store. Having three bustling businesses will be a stark contrast to a few years ago when most of these shopfronts were closed and shuttered, and the other front-facing businesses only opened at night.
For now, the SCG is hard at work organising A Very Scullin Christmas, an event that will see community stalls, a kids market, local musicians and a Christmas movie screening at the shops.
The event will also raise funds for ongoing projects around Scullin. They’re hoping to have regular markets and events throughout the year and turn their attention to green spaces across the suburb.
If your local shops could do with some revitalisation, there’s plenty of inspiration to be had from the success in Scullin.
“Be constructive, be creative, and just go for it! You don’t have to have everything worked out before you start,” advises Sue.
Emily added: “I think putting it out there and getting people involved with different skills, and not being afraid to ask for help. We ask for help all the time!”
Join the community for their Christmas celebrations and see the transformation for yourself.
Find out more and get involved with the Scullin Community Group through their website.