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July 11, 2024

You’ve had 10 years to meet Charlie

Adelaide Arcade gift shop Have You Met Charlie is celebrating 10 years of brick-and-mortar trade and CityMag stopped by to say happy birthday.

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  • Words and pictures: Helen Karakulak
  • First picture: Have You Met Charlie owner and founder Lauren Harper

In 2014, Have You Met Charlie was born as a pop-up shop in Charles Street Plaza.


Have You Met Charlie?
Shop 12, Ground Level, Adelaide Arcade & Shop 2, 51 Jetty Rd, Brighton
Open 7 days


With the support of Renew Adelaide who activated the then-vacant space, founders Lauren Harper and Bec Platt wanted a one-stop shop to sell goods from small creators beyond the market scene.

“Back then there were not a lot of markets around, so the markets were sort of every eight to 12 weeks,” Lauren says.

“We met quite a few other creatives, local creatives at the markets and it was like, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to have these things in one place where people could shop them every day and not necessarily wait for the markets’. From there it grew.”

Lauren began the market circuit with Mintcloud, her jewellery label which takes up a large portion of Have You Met Charlie’s wall space.

Mintcloud was established by Lauren in 2013 selling a range of earrings and running jewellery workshops too.

All the brands and products sold in-store are small and independent businesses, with a handful of overseas brands, some interstate-based but the majority are made in South Australia.

“If you’re looking at the stock on the floor, it’s probably well over 60 per cent I would say at a quick guess is South Australian because a majority of that is Mintcloud,” Lauren says.

“I guess that’s the privilege I have, if it’s my business I can feature my product but it is our best-selling product so I’d be silly not to.”

In the early days when it came to curating stock and getting makers on board, Lauren’s market hustle came in handy because she had already developed strong relationships within the community.

“A whole group of us had established relationships from being at the markets together and you know, we’d all help each other out because most of us couldn’t afford to have another staff member working with us so someone would go and grab you something to eat or sit at your stool while you go to the ladies room,” she says.

“I definitely think there was a trust established and a shared vision.”

Lauren says it happened to be mostly women-run businesses and mums on the market circuit who were trying to juggle work, school, and family commitments. They were looking for additional income through selling their homemade wares, which they enjoyed doing for themselves.

Thanks to Have You Met Charlie offering a regular place to sell their merchandise, small business owners had more opportunity to earn than they would at irregular markets.

“It felt like the people doing the markets were taking a hobby that they really were passionate about and were trying to turn it into a business and so it was really great to be able to give people the opportunity to pursue a hobby into a business and get out of perhaps another job that they weren’t loving or enjoying,” Lauren says.

“There was a few that were able to bring like a sister or a friend into their business as well part-time so it was great and a couple of people who then were able to also hire studio spaces so they could get the work out of the home and have that separation between their business… I definitely recall that happening quite a few times.

“That was a really feel-good thing for me to know someone could pursue their passion and make a living out of it.”


Well, have you?

The name, which survived a move to the Regent Arcade and its current home in the Adelaide Arcade, is an ode to Charles Street.

“There’s no Charlie’s in my world and at the time, I had a business partner and there was no Charlie’s in Bec’s world either,” Lauren says.

“It was more about a play on the location, and we liked the idea of it being a question because it made people curious.

“Sometimes I wish I had a more interesting story about Charlie, but at least there is a story.”

While they’re not having a birthday party, Lauren reflects on Charlie’s evolution from a pop-up in Charles Street to being approached by up to 15 business owners weekly who want to stock with them.

“I probably do sometimes underestimate or have underestimated what it’s taken to get to this milestone,” she says.

“I’ve got a great team that supported me along the way… I think everyone that’s worked here has really loved it whether they’ve been here for a short time or a long time, so I sort of take pride in creating a space where people feel safe and comfortable.”

About three and a half years ago they moved into the Adelaide Arcade and not long after they expanded when the neighbouring shop became vacant.

“It was something that always bothered me, it was really tight so it was harder for accessibility, you know, wheelchairs and prams to get around,” Lauren said.

“So when we had the option to move into or expand into the space next door it was perfect because it’s allowed us to spread things out and it’s made the shop accessible for pretty much everyone now and that was really important to me.”

Lauren says they try to use every part of the space, with lower shelves as part of their accessibility as well.

Look out for the ‘made in South Australia’ label when shopping.

When it comes to shopping small, Lauren thinks the appetite from consumers comes in waves.

“I do think that people are more aware of where they’re spending their money, less people are spending money on, I guess the luxury items but when they’re making those choices, they’re trying to be more supportive of being a small business.

“At the moment I think the small businesses have kind of been a bit lost in what’s happening with the economy and there’s so much happening around the world and it’s really difficult to kind of stand up and say we need support when there’s so much conflict and awful things going on.”

We spot a winner – and not just the CityMag journo’s reflection.

Lauren says the speciality of both their city and Brighton stores is that they have a unique offering to help you shop considerately and friendly staff to help you find a gift for anyone in your life.

“It is worth going and looking over the next three months, ‘I’ve got this birthday, this event’, whatever and trying to get a few things at once and then putting it in that drawer.

“Don’t forget that it’s in that drawer, which we can often do, and then you’ve saved yourself time… we’re trying to make it easy, take the pressure off.”

To celebrate 10 years, Have You Met Charlie is offering promotions and highlighting different creatives with gift packs up for grabs and special offers from some sellers.

Lauren says it’s a good time to take advantage of their specials as they don’t do discounts usually.

“Our prices are affordable for a reason, we don’t have huge markups,” she says.

When it comes to her own shopping habits, Lauren says she’s like a kid in her own candy shop.

“I think because we work with so many brands, we’re always getting new things in every week and I’m often seeing things six months before we get them in,” she says.

“I’ve always loved crafty things and creative fun bright colourful things, so my house is full of all things Have You Met Charlie.”

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