Gold Coast businesses leading way in reshaping the retail landscape

Jarrad Miller only opened his new company, The Damn Good Store, five weeks ago, but the Gold Coast small business is already at the forefront of the way many businesses are evolving to tap into just about every trend disrupting retail in 2020.

Dec 23, 2020, updated Dec 23, 2020
Jarrad and Sarah are benefiting from the trends toward buying local both online and instore at their The Damn Good Store on the Gold Coast.

Jarrad and Sarah are benefiting from the trends toward buying local both online and instore at their The Damn Good Store on the Gold Coast.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the retail industry, businesses have looked to adapt to major changes including the rapid rise of e-commerce, the reshaping of the brick-and-mortar retail landscape, and consumer trends such as “buy local”, “omnichannel experience shopping” and an accelerated shift to “mindful consumption”.

“Everything in our store is locally made Brisbane to Byron,” said Miller, who owns and operates the mishmash store of unique local products with his wife Sarah in Burleigh Heads.

“Our customer base is because of that, it’s because our customers are only buying local this Christmas.”

Hyper-local is a trend that is sweeping Gold Coast businesses, where one in five professionals in the city own and operate their own business.

Strategic insights consultancy Nature, in a survey of more than 8,000 Australians commissioned by The Urban List, recently found 94 per cent of Australians think it’s more important than ever to support local businesses, with 80 per cent acting on that by supporting Australian small businesses more than they were a year ago.

From homewares store Heartfill, Gold Coast fashion labels like The Lobster Shanty, local food and drinks like Mr. Consistent and the popular Gold Coast Village Markets, with a myriad more to be found in the city’s neighbourhood villages, many are selling and supporting locally made goods.

But with The Damn Good Store, there’s more.

The store taps yet another trend for the local manufacturers themselves by providing a marketplace for local wares.

Australian retailers have increasingly focused ‘marketplace’ arrangements in 2020. Australia’s major marketplaces include eBay, Amazon, Catch, Kogan, and My Deal.

Miller said The Damn Good Store operated as an online marketplace by stocking products that were locally manufactured, but were exclusively only available online.

The products could be bought individually or The Damn Good Store produced custom or themed gift boxes that pulled together a cross-section of the local products.

However, as a physical shopfront, it also served as a marketplace showcase for these online businesses.

“We’ve had people come in store because the companies and producers are sending their customers here because they only sell online and we have a physical store, so people are coming in here to touch and feel and see what’s available,” Miller said.

It means the store is also a destination for people who do want to get out, but only shop at local, independently-owned small businesses, which has become known as  “village shopping”.

When you walk through the door of The Damn Good Store, it’s definitely a combination, or a mish-mash of random, local, unique items.

The shelves are stocked with items from locally produced ceramics, art and homewares, to locally-derived food such as nuts, dukkas, hot sauces and vegan chocolate.

There’s locally manufactured beer and gins, hand-made wallets, toys and recycled paper notebooks, natural surf wax, and female and male beauty products from local botanical balms to spiced beard oil.

“I think customers really enjoy it.  You come in here and it’s all specially curated, local and unique. I think it’s a nice surprise for people,” Miller said.

The Damn Good Store has also turned up at just the right time for many community-minded corporate entities seeking to engage with their staff, clients and customers and demonstrate their own commitment to mindful consumption and buying local.

Gift boxes for corporates have been flying off The Damn Good Store shelves.

“Our corporate customers are ordering up to 40 gift boxes at a time,” Miller said.

“It’s the type of Christmas gifts that enable companies to showcase their support for local business. It’s a way to say that they are very much a local, real and authentic established company within our community and that they most certainly support locally-made themselves.”

Miller said while the initial plan for The Damn Good Store was to only open an online store to support local business and the local Gold Coast community during COVID, he said he felt it had tapped into a “moment” that could help the business grow in 2021.

“I feel like it has legs.  I feel like it definitely could be sustained because there’s a lot of people shifting in this direction,” he said.

“They’re starting to realise that they need to think about where their hard-earned dollars are being spent. Instead of putting it into companies that produce overseas, they’re trying to put it into companies that they know produce close by and support the economy that they live in.”

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