Published on: June 18, 2010...sponsored by TCC, “changing shopper behavior”
Dux, Dux, Goose...
Saw a wonderful supermarket today called Thomas Dux, one of eleven neighborhood stores operated here in Australia by Woolworths, the market leader. Dux is a small format store, with the center and right wall dominated by fresh foods, mostly produce, and a smattering of grocery products - many of them identified as “local” or “organic” - along the left wall. The store has a Whole Foods vibe, with a little Trader Joe’s thrown in for good measure. There’s also a “foodie” expert in the store who is cooking up samples, answering questions and even doing a bit of selling to curious shoppers.
Here’s how Woolworths is framing the Dux stores: “It's about great quality & local food and inspiration. It's about being 'just around the corner.’ It's the way things should be.”
(Woolworths actually launched the format two years ago with a single unit, but then ramped up its presence dramatically by buying nine Macro stores and changing their name to Thomas Dux.)
Interestingly, the store I saw was in the upper middle class suburb of Lane Cove - located right next door to a Cole supermarket and down the street from a classic Woolworths store. To be honest, the Thomas Dux store has a lot more imagination and character than both of them - the prices may be a bit higher, but this is a store that clearly is not in the lowest-common-denominator business. It seems to me that Woolworths is making a smart bet by having a unit like this appealing to a different kind of consumer; at the same time, it may be able to learn some things from the format that it could add to its traditional format that might make it more interesting and formidable.
A bicycle built for two...
Some businesses succeed because the leadership sees a niche that the competition has not exploited. But others succeed because someone has a bright idea that nobody else seems to have thought of, at least in that market.
I encountered just such a business on Friday when I decided to rent a bicycle and take the ferry out to Manly, north of the city, where I wanted to ride along the beaches and cliffs. I went to a rental shop called Bonza Bike Tours in the Rocks section of the city, and encountered Mark Gooch, a very nice young man who, as it happens, is from Louisiana by way of Texas.
Mark told me that his brother in law, Michael Herrmann, decided to start Bonza during a trip to Australia when he discovered that there was nobody in the city offering bike tours. He did some research, consulted with a friend of his who owns Fat Tire Bike Tours in Paris, and started the business about five years ago. Previously, he’d been an IT consultant in the US, and was looking for a change...and he found that the local tourism authorities were eager to help him.
Since then, Bonza has expanded to Melbourne, now offers private tours in various languages for foreign visitors, and even has started an offshoot business that uses bicycling as a way of team-building for companies. All very exciting, and all because an American guy saw opportunity where nobody else did.
There is, of course, a postscript. When the Sydney Morning Herald wrote about the business in 2007, it was with the following sentence: “It took a pair of outsiders to think of it.” Since then, there is new competition, as local businesses crop up to take advantage of the opportunity that Bonza created.
Which is okay with Gooch, who told me, “Competition makes us better.”
I’ll buy that. In fact, I did. And had a great time renting the bike and riding around Manly.
Pie off the charts...
Sometimes, I just get lucky.
I was walking on Friday afternoon along the water, and saw a small building with the following, completely irresistible sign: “Harry’s Cafe de Wheels.” I immediately checked it out and discovered that Harry’s has been selling meat pies of various kinds since the thirties - and has become such a Sydney institution that the National register of Australia has classified it as having social significance for this and future generations.
They also, as it happens, make one hell of a pie - thick meat seasoned with spicy Indian curry and served in a small, flaky shell and topped with just a bit of tomato sauce. No wonder people were lining up for them in the middle of the afternoon.
Another wine recommendation...
The 2007 Shirley’s Paddock, a blend of cabernet, cabernet franc, and merlot...and utterly delicious. (And, of course, from Australia. Natch.)
BTW...I’ll continue to post pictures from my Sydney trip on our MNB Facebook page.
Thanks, as always, to TCC ... which is sponsoring “The Content Guy On The Road.”
TCC offers customized retail marketing programs that change shopper behavior - attracting new customers and building customer loyalty...generating 4-5 percent sales increases and expanding basket sizes...generating in-store excitement and creating real and tangible differential advantages for your stores.
For more information, Click here.
- KC's View: