HoMie might look like an average retail store, but behind the racks of clothing and the sunglasses display lies a larger social mission.
Co-founded by Nick Pearce, Marcus Crook and Robert Gillies, Melbourne Central’s latest pop-up shop was established to help the city’s homeless. Run by volunteers and selling new menswear and womenswear donated by brands (including Cotton On, Snowgum and Stussy), the shop makes helping those in need as easy as buying a new shirt.
“To us it’s just common sense, but I don’t think anyone’s tried to do something like this before,” Pearce says. “What we’re doing is different because we make giving back cool. We make it easier for younger people to help the community. We wanted to make the donating process more simple, accessible and transparent.”
For each item purchased at HoMie, one piece of clothing will be donated to someone experiencing homelessness in Melbourne. This is facilitated through the shop’s weekly VIP days, during which those approved by an agency come in and choose up to five items of new or second-hand clothing. On these days the VIP shoppers can also get a free haircut, free coffee, get their make-up done and attend job-skills workshops.
Inspired by The Street Store, Pearce and Crook’s one-day clothing exchange between the public and the homeless in December last year, HoMie was created to help make change on a local level.
“This is a huge issue and, because we’re locals, it’s an issue that’s accessible to us,” Gillies says. “These are Melburnians and we’re Melburnians and sometimes the best solutions to complex social issues are those that are established by locals who can see what people in their city are going through.” This has been an ongoing focus for these guys – you may remember reading about Crook and Pearce’s photo project, Homeless of Melbourne.
Murals painted by friends decorate the space. A La Marzocco donated by St ALi stands in the corner churning out coffee for shoppers. As well as bigger brands, HoMie also has its own collection of clothing for sale, emblazoned with the Homeless of Melbourne logo.
While not-for-profit cafes have always had a place in Melbourne, HoMie is the city’s first retail shop giving homeless people access to clothes in a dignified way. It’s a new kind of enterprise the co-founders hope will become more common over time.
“This is the way the world’s going,” Gillies says. “Not-for-profit and for-profits are starting to fuse and all the lines are blurring. I wouldn’t say we’re pioneers by any means, but hopefully this is a common business model in 20 years and hopefully we’ve helped influence that.”
HoMie is located on level 2 of Melbourne Central and will be open until July 31.
Mon to Wed 10am–7pm
Thu & Fri 10am–9pm
Sat & Sun 10am–7pm