A little known treasure….

It’s been about 4 months since I opened my Vintage Fashion Boutique at the Sydney Antique Centre and I am constantly surprised as to how many locals don’t know about the centre or it’s unique history. So I wanted to share with you a little background into the Home of my retail collection
and it is resting in an important location in Sydney’s cultural heritage and history.

The following has been edited from the Sydney Antique Centre’s History Page…….

The concept of the Sydney Antique Centre was the result of an optimistic idea in the fertile mind of its founder, Charles E Hirsch, who collaborated with Lorraine Foster to bring it to fruition. Charles was the survivor of a career which, even in 1974 was, to say the least, as colourfully checkered as a draughts board.

Charles and Lorraine had seen London’s Kings Road Antique Market and they thought that the time was right to establish the same sort of thing in Sydney. It was a valiant, if slightly fantastic, plan because London, at that time, had a population of close to ten million people; including some who were very wealthy indeed and, apart from its dealers having easy access to an infinity of treasures, the city was still cruising on the ebullience of the Swinging Sixties. Sydney, on the other hand, had a population of barely three million people and those who were not already hard-up were soon

to feel the pain as the teeth of the gathering recession began to bite.

Scouting about Sydney for premises of suitable size, and affordable rent, Charles and Lorraine came across the old Kande Kitchenware building in South Dowling Street which was, in 1974, empty and derelict and home to a colony of pigeons, many of which remained, to the consternation of the dealers, in residence long after the Centre was well on its way.

The owners of the building were considering renovating and redeveloping it as a furnishing and fabric businesses but, dazzled by Charles Hirsch’s virtuoso salesmanship, they changed their minds and consented to its use for the purpose he and Lorraine Foster proposed. The two of them then hit the city streets in a clapped-out Valiant and poured honeyed words into sceptical but fascinated ears all over Sydney, with the result that within weeks they had a core of tenants ready to move in and the invitations were sent out for the opening party.

In these early days it would have been an affectionate exaggeration to claim that the Centre was anything like the sophisticated assembly of the stalls and boutiques which it subsequently became. Indeed its appearance in the beginning was more like a rumble sale, or a weekend Trash and Treasure Market. The spirit was there however and, in spite of the occasional electrically charged disturbance caused by the clash of vulnerable personalities, the Centre began to thrive. The commercial advantages of a specialised shopping centre in which a central office could, if necessary,

act as selling agents for stall holders, leaving them free to attend auctions or engage in private negotiations, appealed to the imagination of the public, and it prospered.

Many dealers have been at the premises for a long time and in this, the twenty first anniversary year of the Sydney Antique Centre, twenty two have been in occupation for ten years

or more. For those interested in arcane statistics their total time in occupation now exceeds three hundred years!

Today there are serendipitous treasures for the obsessive collector as well as essential items for furnishing, or re-decorating, everything from a four star hotel to a caravan.
It has become, as the city itself has grown in size and sophistication, both a smoothly operated specialist market and a popular Sydney tradition.

Are you intrigued….?

The Sydney Antique Centre is Australia’s oldest and one
of the largest antique centres with 
over 60 antiques and art dealers.
Our warehouse, plus cafe, is located
just 2.5 km from Sydney’s CBD.
We have Australia’s best range of antique furniture, porcelain, glass, jewellery, clocks, watches, kitchenware, lights, Orientalia, rugs, sports memorabilia, bottles, books, dolls, collectables and vintage fashion.

The Sydney Antique Centre is open 7 days a week from 10-6pm.
I’m sure you will want to visit soon and if you do make sure to say hello,

Please sign my guest book at Shop 16.

Sydney Antique Centre



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