Lazy Luddite Log

29.7.16

Smalltime Operators

Live in an area for a while and you get to know and like some of the local specialty stores. In this short post I provide recommendations on three of my favourite small-time operators in the Monash area.

Uyghur Cuisine in Oakleigh

Oakleigh is renowned as the centre of Greek culture and food in the Southern Hemisphere. But walk a short distance away from the Eaton Mall and you find a variety of other cuisines. One of my favourites has to be the generically named Uyghur Cuisine at 97 Atherton Road.

The Uyghur are a Turkic culture from north-eastern China and are associated with the long history of the Silk Road. At the risk of simplifying, what you will find at this small restaurant is food that combines the spiciness of Turkish food with the textures of Chinese food. In particular I'm a fan of the Lamb Lagman. Lagman is a kind of homemade pasta or noodle in the form of tiny pillows with the most wonderfully tender yet firm texture. The small pieces of lamb are succulent and the sauce is a tasty combination of tomato, capsicum and onion.

This is a small family-run restaurant and you can tell. There is a vibe of having stepped into a private home and this comes with both pros and cons. If you want incredibly professional service then you should move on. However if you enjoy something a bit intimate and modest then give this restaurant a go.

Just Collectibles in Mount Waverley

From Jordanville Station you can see a row of shops, offices and club houses, and the most noteworthy is Just Collectibles at 3 Windsor Avenue. The shop moved years ago from a more inner-urban address to this obscure locale. But I guess a specialty shop with a loyal following from across a large area can survive such a move. I also suspect that this store is a labour of love for its proprietor and his dogs.

Go into Just Collectibles and you find yourself in a space crammed with genre-based toys of all kinds from decades past as well as some newer items that deliberately target the nostalgia of affluent adult collectors. I prefer the older second-hand items and in a world of too many knick-knacks think this is a more conscientious way of indulging in a love of collecting. Also I'm a skilled 'window shopper' and regard stepping into such a shop as a chance to look rather than to possess.

And what a lot to see there is! There are huge spaceships for Star Wars figures to pilot. But there are more obscure things there - everything from Alien Versus Predator figurines to James Bond themed die-cast cars. On a whim I even purchased a pre-loved Ghostbusters monster disguised as a toilet! Yes I admit that is a bit odd.

Video Ezy in Notting Hill

Friends are surprised when I say I still borrow movies from a video library. They wonder where such an almost-extinct institution from our youth can still exist. Yes video stores have been shrinking and closing ever since the Internet became an effective way of delivering movie content. But some still operate and the one I'm a member of (at the time of writing) is a Video Ezy at 414 Ferntree Gully Road (close to the Blackburn Road intersection in a small set of shops that includes the passive-aggressive 'mower man').

This small library is crammed with DVDs which suggests to me that the collection has been consolidated from other now-closed franchisees. Who can say how long this one will stay open. It does seem to get lots of customers however. I think two factors may contribute to this. One is that there are customers like me who still enjoy browsing shelves and using discs and are prepared to come from surrounding suburbs. The other is that Notting Hill is a neighbourhood with a lot of affluent and aging residents who own nice DVD players and lack the patience to bother with newer forms of information delivery.

The shelves offer everything from recent blockbusters to old and almost forgotten cult classics. There will be titles you can find here that the Internet lacks. So if you still enjoy this way of getting your movies then consider becoming a member and supporting this and other local owner-operator capitalists.

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