Backstreet Christmas Day 1: Buying Secondhand


To say that 2020 has been a tough year would be a gross understatement. I always encourage shopping small, shopping local, but ESPECIALLY this year – small businesses have been hit hard in the pandemic, and it is harder to recover, of course, when you don’t have the resources of a big corporation. Many have had to shut down. This year, if you can afford it (because of course cost is a factor, and especially now!) I urge you to source your Christmas goods locally. Food, decorations, gifts – I am confident that you’ll find a wonderful, locally made version of whatever you need. And if it’s a bit more expensive, you know that money is going back into your local economy, into the pockets of local people, and not into the bank accounts of billionaires or massive multinationals who won’t even notice it. 

In the vein of staying sustainable and saving some $$$, Day 1 is about gifting pre-loved items. As well as the suggestions below, I’d add that it’s definitely worth checking out garage sales or Gumtree around your area if you’re looking for something in particular – I was able to buy my mum a beautiful Royal Doulton tree ornament a few years ago, because someone just happened to be selling their collection!

Fashion and Homewares

Check out my post about Brisbane’s best op-shop hot spots if you’re on the hunt for a unique gift – beautiful vintage china or glassware, interesting jewellery and accessories, and quirky fashion (and you can often find new-with-tags clothing for a much cheaper price!) Op shops are also fantastic if you’re looking for a Secret Santa gift, or if you’re just generally trying to stick to a budget at this busy (and, let’s be real, expensive) time of the year.

Empire Revival

167 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington

Formerly the Paddington Antique Centre, a treasure trove of quality pre-loved goods, from fashion and jewelry to furniture and fine china. A lovely spot for a wander, even if you don’t quite find what you’re looking for.

Retro Metro

297 Given Terrace, Paddington

Chock-full of vintage and secondhand fashion, from taffeta formal dresses to boiler suits and work gear, accessories and unusual finds galore. Flick through the racks in Paddington or find them here on Etsy.

Lil Js Vintage

Brisbane-based suppliers of hand-picked authentic and affordable vintage streetwear and the home of Brisbane’s Biggest Clothing Garage Sale in Paddington. Lil Js is primarily run online, but pop-up stores happen regularly so keep an eye on their socials or contact them directly.

I bought a vintage Coogi jumper from Lil Js this year – I am in love with the colour and quality, and service was super fast and lovely.

Destiny Vintage

Maria and Maddy are based locally, and sell their secondhand finds through Instagram with all proceeds going to Destiny Rescue. I’ve found some great deals with them, and shipping and communication has always been prompt.


161 Boundary St, West End

If you’re looking for a recycled fashion gift (or  trying to clear some space in your wardrobe), the idea of SWOP was developed around sustainability, affordability, and waste reduction – you can buy, swap and/or sell pre-loved clothing, shoes, and accessories. Some things are still pretty expensive, but it’s in good condition and all in one place rather than having to scramble through multiple op-shops (although, I enjoy that aspect – so it depends what you’re looking for!). You can shop through their online store, or visit their West End store.

The Gentleman’s Apartment

Shop 1, 2 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington

“Furniture, Antiques and Objects of Desire” by Baker Truesdale. Wayne Baker Smith is a 6th generation furniture maker and antique restorer conservator, with an extensive knowledge of traditional materials and techniques. and 40 years industry experience in the antique trade and design field. Paula Truesdale holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts from QUT and Bachelor of Design from National Art School. She is an artist and designer with 25 years industry experience and provides interior design consulting by appointment.

Read more about the interior styling and restoration services available or view a selection of their antique furniture and other wares via the website.

Secondhand Books

My favourite secondhand bookstores around Brisbane

Archives Fine Books

40 Charlotte St, Brisbane City

Specialising in rare and unusual books, Archives’ claim to fame is that they have over 1 million books in their store. It’s a lovely place to be–creaky floors and the smell of musty pages–and you’re likely to find a truly unique gift. Prices for most of the books are $5-$20. Rare and unusual books are priced accordingly.

Bent Books

205 Boundary St, West End

A brightly-coloured gem in the heart of West End, piled high with tomes of all kind. It looks a little disorganised at first glance but everything is incredibly easy to find. Pricing is very reasonable and staff are super helpful.

Logical Unsanity 24 Hour Book Shed

3 Morgan Tce, Bardon

A bookstore that’s open 24 hours? Yesyesyes. Logical Unsanity is open every day and sells books for mostly $1 and $2. If you’re needing to make room in anticipation of receiving lots of books for Christmas, they also buy books, or you can donate them to the Book Shed.

The Book Merchant Jenkins

19 Dornoch Tce, West End

Run by the team behind Logical Unsanity, a general antiquarian bookstore located inside a historic Church in West End. The Book Merchant Jenkins specialises in Sexuality, LGBTIQ+, Ethnopharmacology, Dance & Performance Art, and Contemporary Figurative & Surreal Art. They are open 7 days and ship worldwide.

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