Features

Bricks & Clicks: Meet the Businesses

- February 15, 2019 7 MIN READ

The sprint weekends are underway and filming has commenced on our docuseries, Bricks & Clicks. The series charts the journey of six traditional retailers as they transition from brick and mortar outlets to global e-commerce brands.

The six businesses are already reaping the benefits of their participation in the project, below we share a sneak peek into their journey.

My Little Dream Co

Self-described ‘people person’ Sue McCormack founded her business My Little Dream Co after a series of unfortunate events force her to re-evaluate her life.

“I lost my house, a marriage and then the day that my house actually settled, my father had a heart attack and passed away.”

Suddenly a single mother with limited prospects, McCormack said she spent much of the time that followed these life events in a fog.

“I’ll be honest. It was one foot in front of the other for a little while,” she says.

Then when her employer decided to shut up shop, McCormack found herself with another dilemma. Rather than join the ranks of the unemployed she decided to taker fate onto her own hands and took over the lease of the store to open a business.

My Little Dream Co. is a children’s specialty retailer, located in Sutherland. It specialise in formal wear and hard to find items for babies to teens.

“So, we do a lot of special occasion clothing – your flower girls, your holy communions, your suits and then we also do a range of beautiful day dresses as well and some day clothes for the boys.”

McCormack opened the bricks and mortar store nine months ago and the brand has grown significantly in a short time.

“It kind of happened very quickly and we ran with it.”

McCormack tells KBB the store has given her both security and independence.

“It seriously just all fell into place, like it was meant to be. Everything came to me, it flowed. And I felt that I could do it and I think that’s the most important thing. I think I can do this and it was that little bit of self-belief that I probably hadn’t ever had before.”

The Mosh Pit

People of all ages love The Mosh Pit, a record store in Newcastle that sells second hand and new LPs, 45s, CDs, Cassettes, DVDs and Audio-Technica turntables. Owner operator Kellie Jackson has been in business since 2012. In a world where streaming music reigns supreme, Jackson’s store is something of an anomaly. She suggests the store’s appeal lies in music lover’s continued appreciation for vinyl.

“Everything old is new again but it’s the vinyl community that keeps us going.

“We have a huge vinyl community in Newcastle, and in Australia. Records have never, ever gone out of fashion. People say that there’s a resurgence but it never left. They’ve always been pressed. People have always bought them. They’re a little bit more expensive than what they were back in the day, but they sound a lot better.”

An avid collector, Jackson suggests the vinyl that they press today is a cut above older iterations.

“It’s quite lovely. It’s quite beautiful vinyl. They have a nice, rich sound for most of them.

For Jackson, some of the biggest thrills come when she introduces vinyl to a teen.

“I love it when I get young kids coming in here buying their first record, because that’s quite an event as far as I’m concerned,” she tells KBB.

“I think we all remember the first record that we ever bought or CD. And I just love showing them around the shop, the things that they can get. This Christmas Taylor Swift was huge for young girls. We had quite a few young girls having turntables bought for them for Christmas, so the moms and dads would buy Taylor Swift, or Lorde, or someone like that for them that they loved.”

Hermans of Horsham

Founded in 1967 by the Hermans family, Hermans of Horsham is a 00homewares store selling a vast array of kitchenware, tableware, giftware and collectables. In the fifty years that it has been in operation, the family business has seen considerable changes.

“Originally we concentrated on things like, occasional furniture, wall papers. We did a little bit of paint. Curtains started very early on in the day,” says owner Ray Hermans. “These days we don’t sell so much of that sort of product for obvious reasons. We’re  more of a kitchen, homewares and gift store.”

In a shifting market, Hermans has been providing services to the Horsham area and wider community for decades.

“People know Hermans of Horsham as being a diverse store that’s always up for offering something a little bit different. Over the last 50 years, there’s been other stores. They’ve come, they’ve gone, we like to think of ourselves as being the constant in our community.”

Horsham is one of Victoria’s most popular shopping strips and as such has attracted a range of retailers both independent and big brand. Hermans says this simply adds to the suburb’s appeal.

Even though our community has those national brands, people support those independent businesses because they’ve evolved over time and really service the nuances that are required in the retail sector,” says Hermans. “Small business retail is essential I think.”

Overboard Surf

 

A shop front in Wollongong, Overboard Surf is a family run business that offers the surfing community one of the largest range of surfboards in New South Wales. Owner Samantha Tollis says surfing is something that is in her blood with her parents running a similar store in her childhood.

“I was born into it,” she tells KBB. “So mum and dad started surf stores over forty years ago, so I’ve always been in the family business. I’ve done other stuff. I’ve been a ski instructor, I’ve worked in advertising, but I’ve always worked weekends, Christmas, I’ve always come back to this. And I’ve never really been passionate about anything else but this.

Tollis took over the running of the family business in 2000. At the time she operated some 14 stores all across NSW and the ACT. These days Tollis has pared this back to a single outlet and the brand no longer makes its own line of surf clothing instead concentrating on its board offerings and putting customer service front and centre.It’s great being face-to-face with your customers on a daily basis. You find out very quickly what you’re doing right, what they would like to have in the store, and what you need to improve on.

For their foray into the online world, Tollis is launching a new brand of surfboards aimed at the beginner.

“We really believe that that beginner-to-intermediate surfer isn’t being catered for in a big way.”

The board range, which is marketed under the moniker Dirty Rotten Surfboards will be available in three models.

“We won’t expand it much after that. It’s three surfers, three stories, three models of surfboard. It’s about that person that wants to get into surfing, past their “foamy” beginner board, but doesn’t want to go and spend a thousand dollars on a performance board. They’re Australian made. I think that’s a really important thing for our customers, to have an Aussie made, really good value surfboard that they can just get straight into.”

Poplar Pet Food

There are drive through restaurants – so why not a drive through for pet food? It’s a notion Adam Wilton pondered one day when contemplating the offerings of his small business, Poplar Pet Food and Produce. A pet specialty store which offers a diverse range of products for animals big and small, Poplar began half a century ago as a supplier for horse and hobby farms.

“That was the original core part of the business and as Wollongong sort of continued to develop, we’ve expanded off into a lot of domestic dog and cat,” he says.

“We’ve got fish, we’ve got chickens and chook supplies, and rabbits and small animals. So we’re really a one-stop shop for pets, I suppose and we’ve got to continue to adapt to all the new pets and different lines of animals and household animals out there.”

Today Poplar has expanded its offerings to encompass an onsite vet clinic and cattery as well as a supplier of all manner of pet foods. As for the drive-through service, Wilton tells KBB it began as an offering for horse and hobby farms – providing grain.

“It started originally for the produce and the bulk items. The drive through service was a benefit for customers there. It’s also now great for parents with kids or elderly people that can come in, they can grab what they need, they’ll tap and go and it works great for that. A lot of them stay in the car and it just makes it a quicker service. it’s a point of difference for us,” he explains.

Fleurieu Arthouse

An arts precinct in the heart of the McLaren Vale, Fleurieu Arthouse offers artisans and art lovers a place to connect, exchange ideas and sell and admire works. Situated within the stunning grounds of historic winery Hardy’s Tintara, the Fleurieu Arthouse is surrounded by beautiful old trees and is close to the cellar door where visitors can buy a glass of wine or coffee before browsing the retail space, gallery and studios.

Owner Anna Small has been operating the boutique gallery space come studio for 18 months. The venue was built from out of the bones of the old Dryden Fine Art Gallery in the heritage listed vineyard by her husband Warren Pickering.

“The gallery had been shut and empty for 12 years, with a lot of winery museum equipment just going dusty. Warren took six weeks to completely clean it. He painted everything, he built all the plinths, he built the shelves. He built the studios out of old wine pallets that the winery gave us. We polished the floors. Every single thing in this building has been touched by Warren’s hands,” says Small.

As artists themselves, Anna says she and Warren are passionate about supporting the local artist community. She says the reaction of customers when they enter the repurposed space is inspiring.

“People are surprised and delighted when they come in at the vast space. They say they can’t tell that from Instagram. They say, “Oh my God it’s so different in here. It’s big.” And the work is high quality, that’s the common comment. ‘Beautiful Artworks’,” she says.

Bricks and Clicks is proudly supported by XeroNetregistry and International Towers.

The first episode of the six-part Bricks and Clicks TV documentary airs on Channel 7 on Sunday 24 February 2019 at 1pm. Tune in weekly for the next episode and sign up to the YouTube channel for updates and sneak peeks.

Small businesses can register their interest to complete the free online course at www.bricksclicks.com.au