The person writing this is Aron Lewin.

I’ve been writing about longstanding shops across Melbourne for the best part of two years now.

People tend to ask how I started, and there’s not a particularly good story. A butcher on Glenhuntly Rd had a chalkboard with  ‘RIP BEN HOWE BUTCHERS – 1960-2017′ written on it. I wanted to learn a bit more about this butcher shop that I had never entered, and had a chat with Ben Howe, who was more than accomodating.

The story was enjoyed (so I’m told) by friends and family so, over the next few weeks, I interviewed the local barber, bookstore and other places that I was reasonably familiar with. I received suggestions for longstanding shops that are outside of Caulfield, and have inched my way across parts of Melbourne in the hope that people will have a chat with me. I’m still inching so, please, send suggestions for shops in different areas!

After a while, I decided to shamefully self-promote. Tales of Brick and Mortar stories have subsequently featured in The Glen Eira Leader, Urban List, Commercial Real Estate and The Age. After an interview on RRR 102.7FM, I received an email from Tatiana CC Scott, an excellent photographer, and I have been working with her on subsequent stories.

The point of this project is ever-evolving. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on it, and the justification for that use of time is not reinforced by something solid. Where I’m presently at is that these shops are an integral part of local communities, and relationships are developed that go beyond transactions.

The chat I have with Hassan from Divine Deli is more important than the coffee I might buy. I care about what he’s up to and, hopefully, vice-versa. We don’t tend to know much about the stories behind these small businesses but – once they close – the opportunity to find out more potentially disappears.

Hopefully, Tales of Brick and Mortar adds something to the way that we value these shops, and inspires a few conversations that go beyond a transaction.

Anyway, please send story suggestions, feedback, opportunities and anything else to talesofbrickandmortar@gmail.com