Customers Want A Curated Experience


Jayden Westen owns Compendium Design Store, a curated gift experience and one of the most successful in its class, maintaining a consistent and strict retail ethic over the years that's not only kept the tills ringing but foot traffic high and a line of magazine publishers featuring him in their shoots.

He builds his shopfronts like set design.  

They're scary-good and ever changing and in his own words, "They increase sales."


Retailer Wants Others To Do Well

Sam Pangiarella owns Warrens Menswear on Market Street, Fremantle. 

The recent street arts festival was particularly extended to include Market Street. The road was cut off from traffic and there was a stage at one end. With the Newport Hotel at the other end and no cars accessing his street Sam was in the middle of a very busy footfall paradigm which saw him with a big smile at the close of proceedings.

Sam argues that he needn't profit, particularly - himself, on festival days but if others around him do, that gives him a great deal of satisfaction. 

It's thais type of retailer we need in our mainstreets: stable and altruistic.  

Here he is pictured in a second store he has just opened: a pop-up shop in Fremantle's High Street Mall.  


Beautiful South Terrace At Night

Visiting Fremantle this week we saw some excellent design features and - by association - a packed mainstreet where all the restaurants are full. Great place management decisions mean the contest between pedestrians and cars is beautifully handled: cars move more slowly, and vehicles are showcased to restaurant patrons... as they themselves are viewed from a parade of happy drivers.

Click through for video.

Three Things About South Terrace

This photo shows a snapshot of South Terrace, Fremantle, Australia and is meaningful for the following three reasons.

1. The central plant thing. The panels have been decorated with local artist's, Horatio T Birdbath's work. That's good. I don't think he was sourced through a tender process; someone in local government simply walked up to him and said "You're a local resource which elevates our distinctiveness and thus competitiveness and sustainability, and therefore we want your work in our city".

2. The huge yellow bikes on the road. I've heard complaints about these but that's just not cricket. Fact is, cars deserve any contest that's thrown at them. Yes, I know we have to worry about the correlation between retail incomes and the convenient parking - using the Shopping Centre Argument; that is: "we charge for parking and shopping centres don't, and shopping centres don't have parking inspectors etc... so-no-wonder-everyone's-going-to-Garden-City", but this is about safety. And other things.

You see, mayors and cities must make a global representations (whilst still retaining their local retail sustainability) and by gently chugging away at their 'bicycle mantra' this local government (City of Fremantle) is making a regional impact: Fremantle is definitely different and distinctive for its modal transport share compared to other places. If everyone else was doing the same then perhaps it is time to revisit the strategy. But they're not. Fremantle has done the hard yards and there's a lot of bike action going on here. The Carols By Candlelight at the Arts Centre saw families arrive in Dutch cargo bikes and occupy every available bike-rack and more.

So what? These hippies aren't buying anything in the shops! Too bad. They are. It's change-making, this bike thing, and if we would just get of their backs and allow the bike culture to settle in our city you will see they will spend and become a fresh source of income for you. It's just a bit clumsy at the moment.

So, these big yellow bikes. What do you think? I think they're perfect. Addressing car-dominance in our cities is not just about taking away their infrastructure (car parks, cheap parking) - it's a psychological game, and these big yellow bikes show the driver that:

  • Next time, their bike might be a more convenient and probably not-horrible-like-other-towns choice.
  • If they think they can road-rage a cyclist, scaring them away from shopping in our town again, then they can think again: there's a public institution which has painted a big bike on the road. That matters. That's political. That's a game-changer.
  • Slow down. No-one wants to be that guy who strikes a cyclist and these big yellow bikes pre-warn the driver that they're probably around.

3. The third thing in the photo that warrants celebration is the guy in the background (sitting down). Always beautifully dressed, he (and he's not the only one) is a rare example of The Gentleman in our high streets. Probably Italian (although I wouldn't know) he and other Italian chaps use our main streets in their well-tended outfits. Take a good look now because these guys will not be here forever.

And Fremantle is unique in having four menswear shops all within coo-ee of each other: Terrace Men, Warrens Menswear, Bousefields and Europa Men. These are all gentlemen's outfitters so go there and see what it's like.

Ride if you like. 

Eager Man Awaits Slurpee Opening

When 'dat opens me getting me a Slurpee.

This is the new 7/11, formally Gloria Jeans.

Surprising to see a 'chain' store close its doors. But Gloria Jeans is not really a 'chain-store', it's a franchise, meaning local ownership of a 'Father' brand.

Subway, Gloria Jeans, Dome, Muffin Break and many of the 'chain' food stores are actually local businesses, run this way because local ingredients are necessary and food quality cannot be controlled from a single head office 4,000 kilometres way.

7/11 is a franchise, too. Franchises operate off the back of organised systems (and not because a local merchant has a burning desire to express themselves in retail). That said, without franchise systems many merchants wouldn't get their start in retail.

The argument though, is our school kids should be coming up with our next retail ideas and not our migration agents. Our migration agents are selling franchises in-toto with our business migration visas. It's no secret among the development community that once permanent residency is attainable the business is put on the market for sale; and some become cynical vehicles for entry into Australia.

But who cares? As Warren Wilmot, CEO of 7/11, says "The advantages of Asians is that work very hard and like to work together as a family." And that's good. Business migrants often bring extensive family-experience in retail with them from their hometowns. They work hard, we're told, and they favour businesses with long hours because there's more opportunity for the whole family to muck in.

We all know our Greek, Italian and Vietnamese retailers delivered that social capital to our mainstreets in spades. With no language advantage and general prejudice probably impeding other forms of employment, retail has been the vehicle for ambition and social capital in my country for as long as I've known.

And the corner delis we may look back at with pride weren't without their corporate branding: Winfield 25s; The West Australian newspapers and Coca-Cola have been on every corner shop in Australia since forever.

And whilst the children of our immigrants will soon be forced to do a medical degree at UWA, we actually want them to bring all this retail expertise back into our mainstreets as retail entreprenuerliasm and new shops. Because it's that which generates an interesting and diverse streestscape; which pumps the development community along too.

So enjoy our migration agents and franchises bringing families in to settle on our street corners. But as district managers we must be clever and have dialogue with these families.

When their residency is settled we want their retail knowledge back on our streets in a new retail businesses - not shipped off to medical degrees at UWA.

Above: 'Twas Gloria Jeans.

A Retail Community In Pictures

No two mainstreets are the same.

1,372,511 people were counted in October across 11 of Perth's mainstreets.

See how Monday to Sunday varies for each mainstreet by clicking ahead.

How To Create A Much Better Laneway

This is Drew Walker.

Drew owns a shop.

The shop is Captain Walker's Bicycles.

I first met Drew when he had an incubator space at a special house called the Fibonacci Centre.

On Blinco Street in Fremantle, The Fibonacci Centre is a piece of land with a building on it.

Bought by Robby Lang, who has recently won an award for the thickest Scottish accent outside of Muirkirk and is a metal-form producer by trade, it grew to be his house, a double storey cafe, multi-room incubator and many other things buildings should be, which is to say: unique.

Visiting Robby one day to introduce myself and talk about his involvement in the local economy I confessed to Drew, who had an incubator space there - a cage, really, as the partitions between businesses were cyclone fencing making them seem (in hindsight) like kennels - that I only had a few coins, but if he could take my vehicle - a bike - and pump up the tyres and give it some oil whilst I talked with Robby that I'd be most ingratiated to him.

After Robby, I came downstairs to see this remarkable man breathing life into my bike and I instantly thought, as all good men do: this guy should be in town.

But why?

Good businesses foster community development. This is due to the use - in this case bicycle sales and repairs - but it is also due to the retailer who performs that use in the manner that attracts community participation.

As it happens, Drew now runs a sexy little bike shop in town selling new-vintage bikes in a stunning, triangular shaped shop in a forgotten laneway.

And this is the story of Paddy Troy Lane.

It's so important that the walkability of our community is increased.

  • This makes us more competitive - because more track is accessed by more people thus, effectively, keeping them away from other districts.
  • It's better for our community - because people access more places, resources and people.
  • It's good for our economy - because inferior places become superior and can support more independent businesses.

And one way walkability is increased it to put excellent retailers in places that are ... a bit on the nose.

These places are cheap. Bonus.

And so when Drew told me he was taking a shop behind Cash Converters, next to Wear2, fronting Paddy Troy Lane, I instantly leaped.

This would be great for the community because Paddy Troy Lane would become a bit more walkable, and our pedestrian network extended.

But first: a problem.

You see, his shop is within a property that's part of a strata titled complex.

And it's called Fremantle Malls.

Fremantle Malls has 45 separate titles, meaning it's like a shopping centre where all the shops are individually owned.

It also has about 200 metres of frontage across a main street, two arcades, a side street, and Paddy Troy Mall.

On the strata plan there is a formal address for the serving of notices and so on, and in this case it's '27-45 William Street'.

What happens next is that shop owners address their shop as "Lot 30, 27-45 William Street", or whatever, because this is the how it's quoted in their lease.

But to name your shop 'Part Lot 41, 27-45 William Street', as Drew could have, would be ridiculous.

'Paddy Troy Mall' is cool. And Drew was about to make it cooler.

And we called his shop 1 Paddy Troy Mall.

Within six months, 'Paddy Troy Mall' has become a place in the consciousness of the community.

And that's good.

For our community, for our economy, for walkability and for our children.

Thank you Drew. You're the best.

(And thank you Robby Lang too.)

Above: Drew Walker of Captain Walker's Bicycles (1 Paddy Troy Mall) at The Monk Brewery, South Terrace, Fremantle, Australia, reviewing Perth's pedestrian statistics.


Read A Statement From Drew

Head Up To The Blinco Street Cafe At The Fibonacci Centre, 19 Blinco Street, Fremantle, Australia

Meet Drew's Neighbour - Jay Wilde At Wear2

A Further Article On Paddy Troy Mall

Have A Look At A Laneway In Hanoi


How To Attract More Lovers To Your Economy

I remember Councillor Pemberton remarked of her trip to the Project for Public Spaces seminars in New York that 'creating places where romance can occur is a good indicator of success', or something to that effect, and I hope she doesn't mind that I paraphrase from memory.

You know, that's true.

And that's probably all that needs to be said about that.

Other than:

  1. Walkabilty / accessibility: A large network of wander-able streets is paramount. Therefore: we need excellent quality public spaces - let's say footpaths and interesting lighting, to start.
  2. Business selection: simultaneously easy, and hard. Easy to try, hard to see through to the end. But try. An independent restaurant run by someone with a passion for humans (sounds corny, but it's simple and true) is better than Hooters. Does your Town Planning Scheme differentiate between these two types of restaurants? Sorry, but Hooters are looking*.

Why are lovers in the economy important?

Like frogs in your backyard, they are a great example of the vitality within your retail ecology.

How to attract more lovers to your backyard:

a) Connect places. Simple, hey? But if one street is cut off from another because of a connection that is dark or dead, then connect it to get triple the benefit: three streets will become one. Yay-ee-yay.

b) Beauty. Surprising, but beauty is not subjective. Discriminate and make your 'places for people' pretty. That is: streets, laneways, businesses, shopfronts. Make a call.



Above: You will not see this at Hooters.

Ginos, 1 South Terrace, Fremantle, Australia.


Further links

More Reasons For Walkabilty To Attract Frogs, Ah - I Mean - Lovers In The Economy

They Would Not Do This Opposite Hooters

Reward Your People With Accurate People Counters In Your Mainstreet

Thank You For Voting For Australia's Best Blog


*Happy to help.

Retailers Make The Places

I got an email today from my member of parliament.

Eleni Evangel.

She and Milena Djurasinovic are the most powerful in the land.

And what was on the link?

A snip of the New York Times article praising Perth.

Yes, but what's this all about?

This is about retailers.

Retailers make the places that drive community participation.

It's the over-the-head photo of the vine entangled in the rafters which excites the New York Times.

If people are participating in your street it's because of places made by retailers.

This is what sends us in to a tiz.

Jay Wilde of Wear2, Paddy Troy Lane, Fremantle, Australia. A place manager driving community participation.