Guide to Giving
NEWS  |  Good Business, Social Enterprise, Social Innovation

First Permanent Social Enterprise Precinct Opens in Melbourne

Tuesday, 13th January 2015 at 10:32 am
Xavier Smerdon, Journalist
Down a long hallway in a building in the heart of Melbourne is a store with a difference.

Tuesday, 13th January 2015
at 10:32 am
Xavier Smerdon, Journalist



First Permanent Social Enterprise Precinct Opens in Melbourne
Tuesday, 13th January 2015 at 10:32 am

Down a long hallway in a building in the heart of Melbourne is a store with a difference.

On first impression it seems to be just like many of the other shops that grace Melbourne’s Central Business District.

A range of products from bags and vintage clothes to vinyl records and household cleaners are sold to eager customers.

But this shop is different to all the others in Melbourne. In fact, it is being spruiked as the first of its kind in Australia.

All of the products in the store are provided by socially aware retailers who use part of their profits to give back to society.

Pop Union and Donkey Wheel House have combined to create the space, called 12 x 12.

The shop gets its name from the fact that every 12 weeks a new list of businesses will replace those previously occupying the space.

Project Manager from Pop Union, Hugo Lamb, dreamed up the concept and put 12 x 12 together.

Pop Union is an organisation that helps set up temporary pop up shops throughout Melbourne.

Lamb said the reaction to the space had been positive.

“A lesson we’ve learned from other retailers is, first and foremost, people come for good quality items, and then convenience and then third there’s a social impact component to it as well,” Lamb said.

“For people in this building as a real hub for social and ethical businesses, a lot of them are very well travelled and very experienced so we had to make sure we were offering them something different as well because they’re going to be our biggest supporters and if they saw a repeat of something they had seen before then it just wouldn’t have been effective.

“We’ve really been committed to getting Donkey Wheel House right and getting all the different tenants and the people that work in this building on board. It’s been a bit of a slow uptake but there’s been an overwhelmingly positive reaction from people that have been coming in.”

Lamb said Pop Union had organised the space for the social enterprises to occupy and had provided a full time staff member to handle sales.

“For us, we do care about the retailers and we want to prove how doing something like this, taking a bit of a risk for some of them by moving out of the digital space, moving away from the safety of an online store and trying something a bit different can actually be successful,” he said.

“The average spend from the customers coming in here has actually been quite high, they’re spending upwards of $80.”

12 x 12 will be a permanent fixture at Donkey Wheel House and is located at the ground floor of 673 Bourke Street in Melbourne.

For more information visit

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

Guide to Giving


Helping the helpers fund their mission…...

FrontStream Pty Ltd (FrontStream AsiaPacific)

Yes we’re lawyers, but we do a lot more....


NGO Recruitment is Australia’s not-for-profit sector recru...

NGO Recruitment


More Suppliers

Get more stories like this



Thinkers Look to Melbourne to Grow SA Purpose Economy

Wendy Williams

Thursday, 21st September 2017 at 4:44 pm

NFPs Need Social Media More Than They Know

Alecia Hancock

Thursday, 21st September 2017 at 8:33 am

Social Media ‘Inspires’ Fundraising Globally – New Research

Lina Caneva

Wednesday, 20th September 2017 at 4:03 pm

Australian Organisations Score in the Top 10 Per Cent of B Corps Globally

Luke Michael

Monday, 18th September 2017 at 5:03 pm


Moves to Stop Volunteering at Overseas Orphanages

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 13th September 2017 at 1:54 pm

Future Uncertain for Disability Organisations Following Funding Cuts

Wendy Williams

Tuesday, 19th September 2017 at 8:29 am

Majority of NFPs Are Not Believed to be Well-Run, According to New Survey

Luke Michael

Tuesday, 12th September 2017 at 4:14 pm

More Australians Are Giving Time Not Money

Wendy Williams

Monday, 11th September 2017 at 5:07 pm

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guide to Giving
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!