Among the boutique stores and high-end restaurants along the once-shabby Smith Street sits Happy Valley - a slick design, art and bookstore founded by former Polyester Records and current Tramway Hotel owner Chris Crouch. He’s gutted and refurbished the space, a former travel book store, to let in a lot of natural light and allow for a newfound, inventive atmosphere.
It is here that Crouch has brought together all his “crazy ideas” to birth the concept store he spent years dreaming of. “The idea was to have somewhere I could just hang out in a beautiful space with things that I like… I decided to meld all my interests together.”
Crouch says it’s important to him that there’s a slight mystery to the moniker. “I wanted to come up with a name that, until you came here, you didn’t know what you were getting,” he says. Crouch’s space certainly possesses the unique vibe he is trying to achieve. Shelves lining the walls are festooned with terrariums, Wewood watches, Zatchels and curious porcelain coffee cups – Momugs - with moustaches painted on them.
Art prints by Sèverin Millet hang between brimming bookshelves containing independent and unusual releases spanning ten different genres including graphic novels, music, humour, art, food, non-fiction and classic novels. Amongst these categories you can find titles by Jonathan Ames, Gary Baseman, Richard Brautigan, Chuck Klosterman, Daniel Clowes and Mark Ryden to name a few. Most of the items are results of Crouch’s personal tastes combined with different pieces he has discovered during his travels locally and abroad.
Crouch intends the space to host artists’ works, launches and simply to be a place people can feel comfortable visiting. “I love being able to talk with people, and be able to recognise them around. I missed that while I was away from having a shop,” he says.
294 Smith Street, Collingwood
(03) 9077 8509
Mon to Thurs 10.30am–6pm