Bringing fashion, footwear and apparel to Darby Street for more than 23 years
It was in October, 2000 that a little fashion and music store by the name of Abicus first opened its doors on Darby Street. A breath of fresh air and one of a trio of retailers who, at the time, brought to Newcastle a new, and much-needed shopping experience.
More than twenty years on, the evolution of Abicus continues with owners Tiffany Minell & Tim McPhee being as passionate as ever about delivering a thoughtfully curated line up of men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, together with a specialised catalogue of vinyl, driven by Tim & Tiff's love of music.
Catching up over coffee and beers at Wil & Son’s, Tim and Tiff chat to us about 22 years in business and what has brought about their change in focus.
“After 22 years, and especially after the last few, we needed to totally reset and re-connect with what Abicus means to us. And it means a lot!"
"What a privilege it is to live in this amazing city by the coast, the food, the coffee, the pace, the community, with a family, AND to be two decades into a retail business that is still growing. Wild!….To think that it all started with just a crate of records and a single rail of clothing." - Tim says.
Tiff adds, "One of the major changes the business has undergone across the last decade or so fashion curation-wise has been our move away from buying seasonal trends, as it was in the early days."
“Historically there have been periods where seasonal trends have been offered via monthly collections, very much a fast-fashion model which doesn’t resonate with us at all”.
Tim adds, “Our focus in apparel is very much about well made, long lasting, functional pieces... simple timeless classics.”
Kuwaii is one such brand, which Tim describes as ‘a real diamond in the crown’ and are doing wonderful things in the industry.
“It’s a real treat to be working with Kuwaii, their collections are just so fresh and all made locally in Melbourne..."
"Rollas have also recently introduced an Australian made organic cotton denim which is super encouraging to see. Bring on Australian-made textiles!”.
“A significant chapter in our more recent less-is-more journey came when we were forced out of our sister store Scout in 2021, faced with the decision to either find a new location or merge Scout with Abicus and curate our dream offering, it made total sense to simplify, pick our favourite lines and streamline the business…. So it’s now all under one roof and feels just right”.
Their merge has worked out a treat and in addition to the apparel, accessories and vinyl at Abicus, there is also the footwear, which has become a major part of the business as Tim explains,
“We’ve somewhat accidentally become a footwear destination over the last few years... having worn Birkenstocks and Blundstone myself for a really long time, it was an organic addition to the store's offering... never did we imagine German sandals and Tasmanian boots would connect with our customer base the way it has."
"Again, it really comes back to folk seeking practical, functional, quality classics".
Whilst the online side of the business continues to grow, the unique in-store experience and offering is what Abicus is widely known for, and as Tiff explains, it's still the local support that blows her away.
"We have customers as young as 12, right through to locals in their seventies shopping with us... it’s just amazing! And then to see people grow with us over the 22 years, many with children now shopping with us... so lovely to see.”
Tim and Tiff's ability to continually evolve and stay relevant in the ever-shifting retail landscape is testament to their dedication to bringing to Newcastle a unique retail experience. Their 'always be bothered' and 'pay attention to the little details' are just a few of the mantras they stay true to on a daily basis and why, we hope, Abicus will always be on Darby St.