By William Arnott
It’s been five years since the City of Melbourne transformed eight old newspaper stands into businesses.
Established in 2011, the cylinders have allowed small businesses to grow.
Photographer Chris Cincotta said the cylinders had changed his life.
“It’s amazing … I got to have my own business and sell my own photos,” Mr Cincotta said.
“The cylinders help support someone like me,” he said. “Where else was I going to be able to do that?”
Mr Cincotta is the driving force behind the popular Humans of Melbourne Facebook page and recently launched a line of watches that gives all profits back to the community.
“Without this, I couldn’t do that,” he said. “ And if you look at the good that happens from Humans of Melbourne in particular, well that’s because of the city.”
Currently there are eight cylinders with three-year leases in the CBD.
Creperie owners Patrizia Maselli and Michael Gatta-Castel identified how to transform one of these disused cylinders into a small business.
“Most of them were being unused,” Ms Maselli said. “We actually saw it as an opportunity to turn something that was previously unused into a business.”
“It’s been good for us. It’s been a good location,” Ms Maselli said. “We guessed that, for our product, it would work really well because we are a takeaway, walk past, get a crepe and go type place.”
There’s a lot more to it than just setting up shop and hoping to get customers.
“We make sure we look appealing,” Mr Gatta-Castel said. “We make sure everything looks nice and put a lot of thought into the decoration and the style.”
“It doesn’t mean just because there’s a lot of foot traffic that everyone’s stopping to buy a crepe,” Ms Maselli said.
The old newspaper stands have also become a part of Melbourne’s unique street culture, and are a big hit with tourists and locals alike.
“People keep telling us, ‘we don’t have this in Sydney’,” Mr Gatta-Castel said. “And they keep coming back.”
The council also makes sure that the cylinders are maintained and clean.
“We’re very well looked after,” Ms Maselli said. “And the council has offered an ongoing service keeping the externals clean.”
Current permits for operating a long-term street trading cylinder have been issued until October 31, 2018.