By Mary Dalmau
Business experience has made me appreciate that there is local, and then there is “local”.
Generally, people talk of local in the context of the whole CBD but the fact is many people live, work and visit in extremely specific geographic areas.
Over the past 40 years, I have worked, at different times, on Bourke, Collins, Elizabeth and Little Collins streets. For a long time, the heartbeat of the city was very much concentrated in the district bounded by Lonsdale, Bourke, Collins, Swanston and Elizabeth streets. Later this extended to encompass LaTrobe St.
The retail footprint of the city has broadened considerably and the number of independent retail options has strengthened.
I am impressed by the diversity in what is on offer. As an example, I had no idea how vibrant the cafe culture is in the precinct bounded by Little Collins, William and King streets until I worked in the district.
Typically, the laneways of Melbourne are promoted as the epicentre of this culture but in reality the same dynamic aspect to our city is repeated at various spots around town.
When I moved my store from Bourke to Collins, a walking distance of less than two minutes, some customers bemoaned the fact that we had moved so far away. People create and maintain patterns of movement depending on their geographic location.
And, our marketing and promotional efforts must encourage movement around the city and our notion of what the city is must be challenged. Promoters need to remember that local means very different things. We need to encourage discovery of our city and surrounding areas.
Mary Dalmau owns and operates Reader’s Feast Bookstore.