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Twelve times the impact for retailers with a social conscience

January 28, 2015

The innovative new Melbourne retail space gives community-minded spenders an opportunity to put their money behind socially and ecologically sustainable initiatives.

Donkey Wheel House is a veritable hub of virtuous activity, housing a collection of businesses that give back to the community and environment in inventive ways.

A coffee from the popular not-for-profit Kinfolk Café on the ground floor goes a long way to support the group’s range of partnered charities, with caffeine devotees given the option of nominating which to donate the proceeds of their espresso purchase to.

With an established community of socially concerned businesses in the wings, the new 12 x 12 retail space is in good company.

12 x 12 1

Products for sale at 12 x 12 tap into the current zeitgeist for quirky gift-type items that simultaneously address key social or environmental issues, guaranteeing more bang for your buck in terms of altruistic spending. The name refers to the unique rotation cycle of groups of 12 retailers, with each having 12 weeks to stock and sell their wares at Donkey Wheel House.

The first round of retailers include Dear Gladys, a vintage clothing label supporting disadvantaged women re-entering the workforce; and Planet Luxe, eco-friendly cleaning product purveyors.

Designed by emerging practice Index Architecture, 12 x 12’s fitout sits lightly in its setting, against blonde timber flooring and bright white walls. Clad in ply, now a seemingly ubiquitous material in hospitality and retail interiors, the retail space works hard with a simple and efficient storage system integrated in to the walls. The perforated ply works with dowels and interlocking shelving, providing an endlessly customisable display system.

12 x 12 2

The space reflects the dynamic contemporary retail model, offering customers a refreshing experience between a pop-up and indie marketplace. The regular shuffle of niche goods on offer appeals to the short attention span of the modern shopper – with an entire generation of browsers raised in the era of online stores, traditional retail has to lift its game to compete.

Giving community-minded spenders an opportunity to put their money behind socially and ecologically sustainable initiatives, 12 x 12 gives us all a chance to satisfy an ostensibly selfish penchant for retail therapy, guilt free.

For more information on what retailers are in store, visit

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