Drinking my morning coffee, reading city headlines on my iPad, I see the all too familiar story that another shop is closing, the third or fourth in the street of late and the impact and feeling empty shops instill in a community is overwhelming. The embedded text of the headlines leads to increasing uncertainty of the vast array of traditional retail opportunities and deter people from offering shop front retail experiences, a forgotten or in experienced concept that has not been encountered by many due to the ease of online shopping and dominance of large chain stores. The personal and financial risk can be too great for many to give it a go.
The many forms of retail are an art which people put their heart and soul into to provide an experience that you can’t find online. Retail can be and activity, therapy, hobby and create a community, a hub that wraps you in personal connection and consumer investment. I remember the hours I spent doing a little browsing and a lot of socialising in my local video store. I was a part of that community, knew that those people were there every day and we were all a part of each other’s lives. I forgot that I was the customer and they were the shopkeepers and if I didn’t visit for a week they would always ask me where I had been. Sadly, outside pressures can drastically impact these retail communities and in the case of the video shop, our next generation may never know they existed. The visible impact remains in empty shop fronts.
An empty shop emulates empty feelings. It is something both the city and the country have in common. As a small town looking at Economic Development initiatives we thought; “what can we do with what we already have, and how do we keep it alive?” Over the space of a year we focused on a concept for an empty shop, thought about how we could use this space to impact more than one person or business, and how to keep things fresh with minimal risk and maximum impact. The idea, the space, the name evolved; and finally advertising the low-risk opportunity empowered people to take that chance; forming the Dumbleyung Mini Mall and its community.
When visitors from the city come to our small town they feel that long lost connection to a real retail community as they step foot into the Dumbleyung Mini Mall; they want to spend time there, they immerse themselves, they connect with local people creating a memorable experience of “that little shop in that little town” – they want to take “It” home. Locals pull up a stool at the counter, have a cup of tea, some help the shopkeepers with customers, some local customers take it a step further and open the shop for something to do not realizing they have become volunteers.
We didn’t know if this concept would work but thought it best to try something within our means. Since the Dumbleyung Mini Mall opened its doors in December 2018, the result is a shop that breathes community writing its own story, one page at a time.
What is the Dumbleyung Mini Mall and how do we make one retail shop space inclusive?
- The Dumbleyung Mini Mall is a small business incubator providing a safe space to inspire hobbies to grow into something more.
- The Dumbleyung Mini Mall is made up of small participating businesses/brands that share the space and shopkeeping.
- Since opening we have seen 13 participating shopkeepers and brand displays from our small community. The shop continues to be frequented meaning customers are invested. The product range is growing and changing, they have fundraised and hosted events. In the beginning we focused on how the experience at the Mini Mall made you feel and the domino effect is people are talking about the Mini Mall to friends in other towns and surprisingly they travel to our once empty shop to spend time and money. This venture has proved that from little things big things can grow and success can be achieved. Welcome one and all to the Mini Mall, run by shopkeepers that make you a cuppa and have a chat and love hearing about what you think needs to be in the shop to keep it a viable thriving metropolis.
We welcome diversity and currently have a range of brands including but not limited to the below categories:
Retail - Specialty new products sourced for retail sale in store. Includes eco-products, clothing, soaps, décor
Quality Pre-loved - Items that are near new and fit within the aesthetics of the shop. Includes clothing, art & decor
Hand & Homemade - Locally made products. Includes knits, candles, photography and food.
We are always seeking expressions of interest for Shopkeepers or Displays. If you would like to be involved or are just curious, please contact us on 9863 4012 or read more at: https://mailchi.mp/a937fb…/dumbleyungminimallinformationpack
Check out our photos and what we are up to!
Article by Nicole Taylor