Geelong’s Popcultcha on the move after buying iconic bookstore

The Ryrie St landmark was previously leased by party supplies retailer Lombards.
The Ryrie St landmark was previously leased by party supplies retailer Lombards.

A Geelong retailer selling pop culture merchandise is moving to one of the city’s landmark retail addresses.

Popcultcha is preparing to relocate to the former Griffiths bookstore in Ryrie St later this year after the Howard family, the company’s owners, bought the building.

The sale, which the Geelong Advertiser understands is worth more than $2.25 million, is expected to settle this month.

Ground floor retail space spans 380sqm, with the heritage-listed exterior offering a wide street frontage to give more room to display an array of statues, suits and collectibles.

Popcultcha director Ash Howard has fond memories of the Griffiths building.

The Howard family has bought the old Griffiths books store building at 96-98 Ryrie St, Geelong.

“I remember as a kid walking in there, just the smell of the old floorboards,” he says.

“We hope to restore it over a couple of months.

“We’ve always been on the lookout for something that fits with our brand.”

Howard acknowledges the risk of relocating away from its present Moorabool St location, one of Geelong’s main pedestrian thoroughfares.

But he says the business has already taken the bold step of establishing a Popcultcha gallery at Federal Mills.

The ground floor offers almost 400sq m of floor space.

“That’s definitely not a foot traffic area and it’s been very successful,” Howard says.

“I see Ryrie St making a comeback. I’ve been disappointed with the amount of action on Moorabool St. There doesn’t seem to be too many retailers getting out on the street but Ryrie St has got some things going on,” he says.

Howard says eateries such as Alma and the gelati store in Gheringhap St, as well as Wonder Yoga on Ryrie St, are already creating a buzz.

“Everybody is starting to realise that town doesn’t have to exist in a small perimeter around Westfield,” he says.

Ash Howard is the director of Popcultcha, which is preparing to move its Moorabool St shop to Ryrie St. The business also has a display gallery at Federal Mills. Picture: Glenn Ferguson

He says the move away from the bus stops will also please customers.

“We’ve got mums and dads bringing their kids in and it’s just not cool to take your kids in there when there’s a chance of fights around the corner,” he says.

Gartland Property, Geelong agent Adam Farrell, who brokered the deal, said the buyers saw the positives in occupying such an iconic retail space.

“We’ve got some positive things happening in that little pocket,” he says.

“All the little shops are filled. There will be another restaurant going in to 110 Ryrie St, which I sold about a year ago.”

This article from the Geelong Advertiser originally appeared as “Popcultcha set to move after owners buy Geelong’s Griffiths book store building”.