End of an era for Chapel Street antiques dealer

A family business that has been running since 1901 will end 93 years of continuous trading in Melbourne’s popular Chapel Street when it sells its historic shop.


McPhee’s Fine Antiques, which focuses on 18th century English and French furniture, has put its store at 200-202 Chapel Street on the market with price expectations above $5 million.

The business originally opened around the corner in High Street.

The two-level, double-fronted, 497-square-metre Victorian-era building, Holywells Terrace, which is in near original condition is in a part of Chapel Street dominated by similar historic shopfronts.

Fourth-generation antique dealer Duncan McPhee said the family business would remain open but move to another location.

“We’re keeping on the business. Chapel Street has changed so much it doesn’t suit that type of business any more. It’s a different type of street to what it was years ago,” he said.

Mr McPhee and his brother took over the business from their father Christopher.

“It was my great-grandfather who started the business. My brother and I are the fourth generation.”

They buy all their furniture in England and France and ship it back.

“We’ve been doing that for 60 years,” he said.

The property will be sold through Teska Carson’s Matthew Feld and Tom Maule.

Mr Feld said Prahran was undergoing significant redevelopment.

“This part of Chapel Street has an enviable aura and reputation driven by its eclectic mix of tenancies from cafes to restaurants, bars and entertainment venues,” he said.

A recent Knight Frank survey of 11 suburban shopping strips across Melbourne highlighted Chapel Street’s historically high vacancy rate.

At worrying levels of 13.5 per cent last year, the vacancy rate fell slightly to 12.4 per cent, but still remains above the long-term average of 8.6 per cent.

Vacancies across the 11 streets surveyed, which included Bridge Road in Richmond, Toorak Road in South Yarra and Church Street in Brighton, fell marginally to an average of 8 per cent.

High vacancies have not deterred investors, particularly self-managed super funds, who are looking to gain a foothold in retail with a view to long-term capital gain.