Marketing

The Melbourne businesses going the extra mile for footy fans this AFL Grand Final week

Emma Koehn /

AFL Grand Final

Source: AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

The AFL Grand Final holiday might be a worry for some small business owners, but there’s one truth about the lead up to the big sporting weekend in Melbourne — customers like food and footy colours.

As the Western Bulldogs take a shot at their first premiership since 1954, small businesses in Footscray, Yarraville and Seddon are literally painting the town red, white and blue. The team at the Railway Hotel in Yarraville got to work painting the pub on Sunday afternoon, with founder Jason Sneddon deciding that the grand final berth needed celebrating.

“We’ve been flat out, there’s obviously a lot of Bulldogs supporters that are locals,” he tells SmartCompany.

“I’m a lifelong Bulldogs fan, I’ve sat through seven preliminary finals losses, and I said, ‘right, that’s it, I’m painting the pub’.”

Sneddon will be at the game on the day, but in terms of the operation of the business, it will be business as usual — the game on screens and locals able to stop by for a drink and meal.

The leveraging of footy fever isn’t causing businesses to change up how they operate, promoting their services and using social media as a callout for community spirit.

Footscray Milking Station is reminding those in need of caffeine that the café is a short hop from Western Bulldogs’ home, Whitten Oval.

Footscray Market has changed its branding for the week, including a bulldog in its logo.

And coffee shop Rudimentary offered Bulldogs supporters wearing their colours half price coffees on the morning of the preliminary final.

The Victorian public holiday that lands on Grand Final eve has been met with annoyance by many in the small business community, with a survey from the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry finding that 61% of businesses that opened on last year’s holiday reported lower takings than usual, while 39% reported higher takings.

Council of Small Business Australia chief executive Peter Strong previously told SmartCompany opposition to the holiday lies in the fact Grand Final eve is not a traditional event that Australians have celebrated and he said he believes the decision to keep the holiday is “stupid”.

However, local pubs and eateries in the Melbourne area have told SmartCompany they are looking forward to the crowds that this coming Thursday and Friday night will bring.

Food trucks are getting a fair amount of attention for the weekend, with a live viewing site being set up on Saturday at Whitten Oval, featuring food and drink vendors.

Food truck park Welcome to Thornbury in Northcote is also running its own mini live site event complete with drinks packages.

For those watching the game at home, snack food is an equally important consideration — even party pies have their week to shine.

How long colours are left on display will depend on the winner of Saturday’s game — but the week’s lead up has brought the focus back to suburban businesses.

“It’s generated a lot of attention — we’ve had a lot of kids stopping by to have their photos taken,” Sneddon says about the Railway paint job.

NOW READ: AFL Grand Final eve public holiday “still stupid”, say some, but businesses look to silver linings

NOW READ: Meet Fergus Watts, the former AFL player who created $20 million marketing company Bastion Collective

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior journalist at SmartCompany.

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