Topham Mall’s Happy Place Bringing Smiles to Adelaide

Topham Mall’s Happy Place Bringing Smiles to Adelaide
Photos: Naomi Giatas

Topham Mall is a cheerful place to be and that’s largely thanks to a little store with bags of soul. Perch is the brainchild of Bruce Thompson (aka Bluey Boronia) who is on a mission to spread the benefits of creativity and wellness through his gift shop.

Inside, you’ll find limited edition prints, cards, clothing, and stationery. We love the ‘You Are Beautiful’ stickers and mats. If you buy a mat you get one free (on the condition you gift it to someone as a random act of kindness).

Topham Mall’s Happy Place Bringing Smiles to Adelaide

Bluey opened the doors to his store in late 2017 thanks to Renew Adelaide which develops new enterprise in vacant space through a 30-day, rent-free, rolling lease model. It connects enterprise with property owners.

“They’ve given me the courage to jump into it. I think I might have been a little bit scared off otherwise.”

Previous Renew Adelaide graduates who eventually took leases on at Topham Mall are The Beigelry (which has also opened in the Adelaide Train Station), The Flower Nook, and café Booknook & Bean.

Bluey previously lived in Melbourne for 15 years.

“I did a bachelor of design in the 1980s, in the pre-digital world where it was more hands-on. It was in jewellery but I’m not a gold and diamonds boy.”

He laughs.

“I wanted to do things that meant something.”

Bluey went on to work as a merchandise manager and product developer for Museums Victoria.

“I worked for Immigration Museum, Museum Victoria – the ‘mothership’ as we used to call it – for a while, then I moved to Heide Museum of Modern Art. I foolishly decided I really wanted to do a big tourist venue in Melbourne so I went and worked at the ‘Ferris Wheel’ [the Southern Star Observation Wheel]. It was only there for three months, then it broke down. Now it’s the Melbourne Eye.”

Bluey returned to Adelaide to be near his mum after his father died.

“After moving back and not being able to find a creative job, I challenged myself and worked as a theatre orderly in a hospital. It was a non-clinical role doing theatre orderly work and mopping up blood.”

Creativity called, and he eventually left the hospital environment and started his little Topham Mall store through Renew Adelaide. There, he stocks a mix of optimistic and pessimistic products by brands like School of Life and artists including David Shrigley.

“I don’t like cheap things. I like things that are really pretty and beautiful so I wanted to find the middle ground. I really wanted to do something that improved other people’s lives and meant something. I love when other people are happy and have a laugh.”

He smiles.

“Every emotion is beautiful. People really appreciate that they can find something that’s not so much [related to] a ‘Hallmark moment’. Sometimes they work, but sometimes you want to say something that’s from the heart but you just don’t know what the words are.”

Bluey recently accepted the Adelaide City Council’s Offer of Lease so will be at Topham Mall east for at least another 12 months. The CBD will be a happier place for it.

“We need more love in this world.”Shop 11, Topham Mall.

Smiley Fritz

Hot Fritz

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