Monday, 19 March 2012

Shopping for Dads in Freo

I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds shopping for men difficult.

Take my dad, for example. For years, when asked what he wants for his birthday or Christmas, he replies with "I don't want anything."

Firstly, does he think he's being helpful with that statement? We both know I have to get him something, that I can't give him just a card for his sixtieth. If my old friend Captain Translator were to help unpack that statement, I think we'd find out my dad was actually saying something like this:

"Years of being given crappy homemade ashtrays when I don't even smoke have embittered me towards this whole process. Of course there's plenty I want, but we both know you're going to to get me socks. You know what I would really like? How about you expend a bit of mental energy and come up with something yourself for once? Plus, I enjoy being difficult now that I'm getting older. So bugger off and figure it out yourself, son."

The problem is, though, that men tend to have more expensive hobbies. The females in my immediate circle will all satisfied with some sort of knick-knack, on the basis that so long as it's pretty it doesn't have to be useful. These are people who, even though they have more than enough teacups for drinking purposes, will keep buying more because they like the patterns.

But if I gave my father a teacup, he'd give me a look that I wouldn't need Captain Translator to tell me meant "Son, I've already got two mugs. What am I going to do with this one? Next year, just get me socks."

So here are my thoughts on the thorny subject of shopping in Freo for dads...

The Mousetrap (Fremantle Markets)

I read recently that eating cheese gives many men an endorphin release. (Women are more likely to get the same effect from chocolate.) So for your old man's next birthday, pop down to The Mousetrap in the Freo Markets and ask Rosemary to recommend a good wheel. My current favourite is Le Dauphin, a soft, silky white mould cheese from the Rhone Valley. Add some posh crackers and maybe even some quince paste, and you've got a very respectable present.

My verdict: I'm hesitant to include this on my list, because frankly the queues are big enough already, but it's really too good to miss.

B&M Store (High Street)

I've recently discovered this blink-and-you'll-miss-it shop, lured by a combination of the interesting window displays and my wife's sharp little elbow steering me through the door. It's definitely a place I'd recommend for scoping out some cool presents for dads.

The interior is done up in Melbourne hipster style, like the type of shop you'd find walking down Brunswick Street, and it has an interesting assortment of cool slimline leather wallets, travel and novelty books and posters, journals and office stationery, and a good section of gear for iPads and MacBooks.

My verdict: great for dads, bro's, and best buddies. This place is well and truly on my hit list for future present buying missions.

Check out B&M's website here.

New Edition (High Street)

If your dad, like my father-in-law, enjoys an interesting read, then New Edition is the place to visit. It has the added bonus of having an accompanying coffee shop, the brand new The Grumpy Sailor. But for me the wide range of interesting books will always be the star of the show.

New Edition had a bit of everything, but what makes it special is the non-fiction section, which features a selection of eclectic coffee table books. If your dad fancies himself in the kitchen then there is also a wide range of excellent cooking books (I highly recommend anything by Tessa Kiros) and if he likes to keep up with current affairs, history, art and design, photography or travel, then there is something for him as well.

My verdict: If your dad is an avid reader then chalk this place up. You also can enjoy a great coffee at a reasonable price and watch the goings on of High Street.

Check out their website here.

Whisper Wine Bar (Essex Street)

This choice is a little different, but bear with me.

Whisper Wine Bar, located on Essex Street, emerged on the Freo small bar scene about two years ago and hasn't looked back since. I have to confess that it was my father-in-law that discovered the place whilst my wife and I were enjoying the good life in Paris a couple of years ago.

Since I'm in the mood for confessing, I'll declare myself a francophile and after returning from Paris desperate to find a place that could reproduce French bread, my ears perked up when my father-in-law mentioned this small wine bar.

It turns out that Whisper Wine Bar flies in genuine Parisian baguettes to match an equally fine wine list, and it's surprisingly good value. (You'll have to take my father-in-law's word for that as I'm no wine expert.) There is a small menu along the lines of the Parisian baguettes, olives, dips and cheeses.

Whisper Wine Bar is a cosy little venue, with an upstairs section that is the epitome of all that is good about small bars. There's even a little balcony with geraniums. If your dad enjoys a fine drop of wine in classy surrounds, then an evening at Whisper followed by a movie at the Essex could prove to be special present.

My verdict: If you're looking for something different for the dad who enjoys wine and fine Parisian baguettes, then this is the place for you. Bring your own beret.

If all else fails, or you're just in a  bit of a rush ask the friendly staff at this Freo institution to guide to a good quality shirt or some cuff links.

My verdict: If I was a fashion diva, this would be my second home.


  1. Great photos.

    Bousefields, Terrace Men ... are more recommendations ...

  2. Finding father gifts can sometimes be challenging because many gifts for father can be pricey.
    presents for dad