Eclectic retailers deserve to succeed

I walked through small independent stores this week, trend spotting in advance of two friends of mine coming to Australia for speaking engagements, Howard Sanders and Paco Underhill.

Both Howard and Paco founded and run companies. Howard, who is based in the United Kingdom founded and runs Echochamber, while Paco, who is based in the United States, founded and runs Envirosell. They both travel to Asia and Australia on speaking tours, and are due on the east coast of Australia in late July and early August. Howard is speaking at The 2012 Retail World Conference in Melbourne on Monday, July 23, and Tuesday, July 24, and Paco is speaking at the Telstra Conference in Port Douglas, in mid-August. Both are extremely insightful and entertaining speakers on all things retail. I would recommend attending these conferences if you have the chance to go.

As both Howard and Paco believe, good local retailing, impulsive retailing and entertaining retailing starts with a walk-by that stops you in your tracks: You have no intention of visiting this store that you know nothing about and have never seen before. Whilst trend spotting in the back streets of South Yarra, I stumbled upon a stylish small food store called Grove and Vine Providore on Yarra St. This eclectic retailer stocks high quality imported oils, wines, waters and small goods.

I was drawn into the store by the visually engaging and dynamic display at the front of the store, a result of an outstanding labour of love by the designer, and the brief from Roger the owner to fill an unusually shaped void in the front window. More than 1,000 hours of labour was put into the design and production, including threading wine corks individually onto fishing line. Each time the door opens the corks move like waves on a pond. Once inside, the shelves designed from recycled chip board, the unusual high quality European product displays, and the flooring and posters all work well to create a genuinely appetising shopping environment.

All of this drew me into the store. But the unusual range and quality made me buy. Not in the store but online. Why? Because two of my favourite wines, a Barolo DOCG from Italy and a French wine from the Cahors/Lot region took my eye. I was pushed for time and was travelling with only hand luggage, so I made a note on my iPhone, logged onto the Grove and Vine website the next day and ordered, paid and had the wine delivered to my Melbourne office.

And this is why small retail, done well, using physical and online, will continue to work in Australia. I hope Roger is successful, and I hope you visit him, in-store or online. The store had a good design and I believe that well laid out stores with unusual product range deserve to succeed.
Images of the store and Roger the owner’s style can be seen at


As CROSSMARK CEO, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this insightful blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia and across the world. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for businesses in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands.

CROSSMARK Asia Pacific is Australasia’s largest provider of retail marketing services, consulting to and servicing some of Australasia’s biggest retailers and manufacturers.


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